Flashback: The “Inner Light” Shines on Susya, Hanukka 2007

This report from Erella was sent to me over a month ago; it is still relevant – Assaf.

Friday. Fourth candle of Hanukka. Ehud and I drive out from our home kibbutz Shoval on a routine visit to our Palestinian friends of Tuwwani and Susya, 40 minutes to our east. A grayish day sealing the first week of December the likes of which the Bible describes as “clouds and gusts and yet no rain“, and we wonder at a year that once more threatens drought and damage to our crops, and especially theirs, in our Negev and their South Hebron Hills.

At Susya awaited us a chopped-down olive grove along the tiny ravine not far from the dwelling tents of Susya’s few villagers. Thirty-two fruit-bearing trees, faithfully tended by their owner – Yassar Radi Nawaj’a, who lives in nearby Yatta – cut down close to the ground. This must have taken place during the night between Wednesday and Thursday (5-6.12.07). That same night some of the Jewish Susya settlers (situated adjacent to Palestinian Susya and bearing the same name) celebrated in a small outpost they built about two years ago west of their settlement. They lit a bonfire, played music and sang until past midnight, says Mahmoud of Palestinian Susya.

On the morrow, Thursday, at 3 p.m., Mahmoud discovered the ravaged olive grove, while searching for a few of his goats who had ventured out into the ravine. He immediately alerted the owner, who filed a complained with the police, who came.

We don’t know which of the colonists did it, and whether the military post (situated on the hill right above the olive groves in the ravine) was manned that night. Only 32 chopped trees and several broken hearts and hungry mouths tell the deed.

We came there today, Ehud and myself, Nasser, a local, and 12-year old Hamza and his 8-year old brother Bilal. We faced the devastated trees, stunned.

The shriek that wanted out, the tears that wanted to be shed all became that helpless feeling, knowing that yet again no justice will be served against the perpetrators (just like a few weeks earlier, after the settlers’ pogrom in Funduk).

The police will probably close the case “for lack of something” or other (never mind what, they’ll think of something), the settlers and their regional council will probably claim this is a provocation perpetrated by peace activists. Then it will turn into yet another event slipping unknown into silence. I recall how a two and a half years ago, and again a year and a half ago Elon More settlers ravaged olive trees of neighboring Salem village and the old man who relentlessly tended to his grove. Then it was to celebrate Israel’s Independence Days 2005 and 2006. So why not celebrate Hanukka 2007 with their blazing “inner light”, as well?…

How deep the pain.

Starting out on our way back to Shoval, At the junction of highway 60 near Susya Colony, a military vehicle stopped us. The officer asked us where we had been. Visiting friends at Palestinian Susya, we answered. And you’ll be back there tomorrow? he asked. Yes, tomorrow too, we answered. And wished him Shabbat Shalom (a peaceful Sabbath)…


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