The US has threatened a “severe American reaction” if Israel proceeds with plans to destroy a Palestinian village in the southernmost part of the occupied West Bank. Israeli officials said they receive similar warnings from the European Union and the British government.
The Israeli military declared the village of Susiya an archaeological site in 1986, and the population expelled. Israel has destroyed the village four times since then, but the Palestinian owners of the land keep returning and rebuilding the land, though Israeli officials complain they are doing so without permission. The most recent demolition was in 2001, and it has received development aid from the EU, though the courts are ordering it destroyed once again.
This has been a recurring theme on land Israel intends to seize, as they are often able to seize privately owned Palestinian land as “abandoned,” and with the military refusing to give Palestinians building permits, there is no way they can legally use their own land, forcing them to either illegally build, or risk losing it outright.
With an Israeli settlement just a mile away, it’s unsurprising that they’d want this village’s land, and despite the protestation that their interest is archaeological, settlers are already illegally occupying parts of the site.
Officials from the US Consulate in occupied East Jerusalem recently visited Susiya, and are adding to the international call not to destroy the village for a fifth time. Officials reportedly warned Israel that the destruction would be the “crossing of a red line” and would spark a major international reaction.