Susya Residents Confront Army: 'You've Put Us in a Ghetto'
In a video filmed on Shabbat with rabbinical permission, a Susya resident holds up his baby and tells soldiers: "They want to slaughter this!"
By Aryeh Ben Hayim and Gil Ronen
First Publish: 4/12/2011, 3:59 PM / Last Update: 4/13/2011, 8:03 AM
The decision on April 4 by the Hevron Brigade Commander Col. Guy Hazut to allow the family of the man who murdered Susya resident Yair Har-Sinai H"yd into the agricultural fields of Susya has the community up in arms. Susya is located on the southern edge of the Hevron Hills, between Kiryat Arba-Hevron and Arad. It is situated about one mile north of a separation fence checkpoint.
The field in question is a mere 300 meters away from the entrance to the community. The army has imposed a closure order around the entire area, allowing Jews to walk about freely only in Susya proper, thus threatening to turn it into a ghetto. In a confrontation between Hazut and residents of Susya on Shabbat (Saturday), the commander was accused of failing to relay to his superiors the security implication of the decision. The murderers have become sufficiently emboldened to threaten Susya residents with "another Itamar".
Hazut was told that he was not in his position as a neutral U.N. mediator, but as someone whose job is to defend Jews. Hazut replied that it was the army's job to prevent trespassing on a Palestinian's land, thus accepting the Arab view that the land is theirs by default, although they have no legal title to the land and the Jews have held presumptive title for some time.
Arutz Sheva talked with Rabbi Eliezer Altshuler, spokesperson and rabbi for Susya, and asked him to provide further background on the story:
Rabbi Altschuler: “The murderer's family had abandoned the area after the murder (which occurred in 2001 - ed.) and this accounted for the relative quiet. The Arab family has a notorious reputation amongst those who deal with security in the region. Now the IDF hierarchy is letting them return to the places they abandoned. The Jewish community plans to thwart this.
“These are lands that have not been registered and therefore the Arabs cannot claim title. Over the last 10 years, the Har Sinai family has worked the land as part of their rehabilitation following the murder.
“The land in question is officially part of Susya's pasture land and this is officially recognized, and the wadi is smack in the middle of that pasture land. So they are effectively trying to kick Jews out of it by using the wadi as a wedge.
“The pressure is from leftist groups to choke off the open spaces around Susya. This has become a cause celebre amonst leftist and anarchist groups. Taayush on its website calls upon leftist activists to arrive and help the 'poor dispossessed' Arabs. Arik Asherman and his human rights rabbis are buzzing around all the time as are Ezra Naawi and his anarchists against the fence.
“The Army wants quiet and they don't care about the Har Sinai family and its rehabilitation. Little was done when a flock of sheep was recently stolen by the Arabs.”
The Southern Hevron Regional Council is fighting the legal case in the High Court of justice and lobbying people in the political arena.
Rav Altschuler would like people to come to visit Susya and show solidarity. If possible, they could help patrol the area and display a more obvious Jewish presence.
Arutz Sheva: Switching to your other hat as rabbi, there was recently a ruling that would allow people to take and use cameras on the Shabbat. What is your rabbinic position on the subject?
Rav Altschuler: I instructed people to go out to the field with cameras. Cameras are needed to provide documentation, create deterrence and rebut the complaints etc. A Jew is permitted to carry weapons on the Shabbat and cameras have become a prime weapon in the current struggle.