A small victory for the people of Susiya
We were called to be present for plowing near Susiya. When we arrived, the military was there as well as an Israeli settler. There were three tractors that had been plowing but now had stopped and one had soldiers around it.The settler had contacted the military when they saw tractors on land that they thought Susiya could no longer use. I thought, Oh, no. Not again. It is in Susiya, that the village tractor was arrested and taken away. (See post. After three weeks, they were able to pick up the tractor after paying more than 3,000 shekels and signing papers saying they would use the tractor only for farming and nothing else under penalty of five years in prison for the person signing the papers.)
After much discussion and the military looking at papers that Nassar Nawaj’ah showed them, and making phone calls, the soldiers allowed the tractors to keep working. A victory for the villagers. They had not been able to work on that land for more than 20 years and now the courts gave them permission to work use it again.So now tractors from neighbouring villages were also there. The mood was festive. Our driver, Abed, who grew up in Susiya, was almost in tears. He has memories of bringing sheep there when he was a child and now they could reclaim that area.
We stayed and sat between the settlement and the plowing. I noticed that one soldier was at the watchtower close by. The Israeli settler stayed on the road making phone calls. Another Israeli vehicle came also and they chatted for awhile and both eventually left. I do not doubt that when the harvest is ready, settlers will be back to burn it as they have done elsewhere. Hopefully I am wrong. What was sown, is to be food for sheep.
Then we headed to more fields in an area close to Bir al Id where one of the tractors was going to do more plowing. I walked with the headmaster who spoke good English. He pointed out how those in settlements, who were mostly immigrants, could live in nice houses and have good infrastructure. But Palestinians who were here for generations cannot get permits and had to live in tents and sometimes those were destroyed. He spoke of one child who suffered a fractured skull when his home was blown down.
The area now being plowed was close to Lucifer farm which is in fact an illegal outpost. It was not given that name by Palestinians but rather by nearby Israeli settlers. It appears he has a bad reputation among the Israelis also.
We had been in that area before but not quite so close. Some of the villagers had lived in caves but moved to Susiya because Yaakov Talia from Lucifer farm is very violent. I walked up to the fence around the farm and could see the buildings and heard the dog barking. I was hoping for him to come out and have a conversation. However, I did not notice anyone so he must have been away. I did leave a note however asking for an interview and leaving a phone number. Would be interesting. (To date, no call.) I am sure that I would not have gotten close had he been home. It was very messy around his place.
It is good that I had a book along to read. After 2 and a half hours or so, we hiked back to a road where our driver could pick us up. By this time it was close to 4 pm.