Dep. Minister Denies Arab Claim to Susya

'There was never an Arab village at Susya,' says Deputy Defense Minister, noting diggers found an ancient synagogue there, not a mosque.

Shimon Cohen ,

Dep. Min. Ben Dahan
Dep. Min. Ben Dahan
Flash 90

Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben Dahan (Jewish Home) replied forcefully Wednesday to a parliamentary query filed by MK Dov Khenin (Joint List) regarding the Arab outpost near Susya, in Judea.

"There never was an Arab village named Susya,” he said. “This is a land grab carried out by the leftist organizations, with the purpose of taking over Areas C [which are under full Israeli control, according to the Oslo Accords - ed.] by building permanent structures. Researchers and surveyors who toured the area in the 70s testify that they saw shepherds in caves, but deny the existence of any structures in the area or anyone's permanent residence.”

He said that the research was carried out by anthropologist Yaakov Havakuk and Dr. Akiva London.

The Arab-leftist encroachment in the Susya area has been going on for 20 years, Ben Dahan said. “This is not a new matter... but serial criminal behavior. Had it been a Jewish community, I regret to say it would not have been treated with the same forgivingness.”

The Arabs in the area, said Ben Dahan, built several structures that had received "no permit whatsoever." Israeli authorities issued stop-work orders and demolition orders, and the structures were repeatedly torn down and rebuilt between 1995 and 2001. The matter was discussed in High Court motions filed by the Arabs and despite a temporary order that the court issued in 2012, forbidding construction at the location, the illegal building continued, the deputy minister accused.

A zoning plan filed by Arabs in 2012 was rejected by the relevant planning committee in May of 2013, said Ben Dahan. On February 2, 2014, the High Court issued a decision that structures built in contravention of the temporary order from 2012 be torn down and gave 90 days for this to be carried out. The Arabs filed another motion against carrying out the demolition orders, which was rejected on May 4, 2015.

"Susya, the ancient city, existed as far back as Talmudic times,” said Ben Dahan. “Its ruins, with an ancient synagogue at their center, were exposed in digs that were carried out there after the Six Day War. They did not find a mosque there, but a Jewish synagogue, and numerous structures from a large Jewish community.”

Ben Dahan also noted that in July of 2001, the shepherd Yair Har Sinai of Beit El, was murdered, and his body was found 300 meters from Susya, at a spot very close to the illegal Arab outpost.

Rejection of the latest Arab court motion triggered “a coordinated smirch campaign in Israel and abroad by leftist organizations, against implementation of the verdict,” claimed Ben Dahan.

MK Khenin rejected Dep. Min. Ben Dahan's version and cited a former Justice Ministry official, Pli'a Albek, who wrote, in 1982, that the ancient synagogue is located in Khirbet Susiya, and surrounded by an Arab village. The land of Khirbet Susiya, she wrote, is privately owned by Arabs.