“There is another way”: witnessing Israeli and Palestinian peace activists demonstrating to save Susiya

By EA Theresa

Now back in the UK, EA Theresa spent much of her recent EAPPI service visiting the community of Susiya in the southern West Bank. The community’s entire village, which has stood since before the occupation began, is awaiting imminent demolition. Here Theresa recalls one of the many demonstrations and awareness-raising events she witnessed in support of the village’s residents.

On June 5 – the day of the 48th anniversary of the beginning of the occupation of Palestine –  Combatants for Peace, a joint Israeli-Palestinian peace organisation of former fighters from both sides, organised a demonstration in Susiya to highlight the injustice of the occupation.

Due to the demonstration and the presence of so many Israelis, the Israeli military watchtower overlooking Susiya was busier than on most days.

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The Israeli military watchtower overlooking Susiya [Photo: EAPPI/T.Mansbridge]

And there were secret service and Israeli civil administration vehicles up on the road alongside Susiya.

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Photo: EAPPI/T.Mansbridge

The Combatants for Peace participants were divided into groups to have the situation in Susiya explained to them and to see some of the homes threatened with demolition for themselves.

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Photo: EAPPI/T.Mansbridge

EAs had an opportunity to explain our role to Israelis and the media.

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Photo: EAPPI/T.Mansbridge

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Photo: EAPPI/T.Mansbridge

A rally was held in which instructions were given to all the participants, reminding them of how to take care of themselves in the heat, what to do to help the demonstration and what to do if the Israeli military should take action. A member of the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) gave a rallying speech.

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Photo: EAPPI/T.Mansbridge

The rally walked out of Susiya to the main road near the slip road that goes to the illegal Israeli outpost of Suseya Synagogue, built on Susiya’s original village.

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Photo: EAPPI/T.Mansbridge

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Photo: EAPPI/T.Mansbridge

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Photo: EAPPI/T.Mansbridge

As it was Friday the rally broke for prayers.

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Photo: EAPPI/T.Mansbridge

And then the rally continued. Taking part were Israelis and Palestinians, young and old, male and female.

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Photo: EAPPI/T.Mansbridge

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Photo: EAPPI/T.Mansbridge

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Photo: EAPPI/T.Mansbridge

Some Israeli settlers and tourists going to the Suseya Synagogue visitor centre – an illegal outpost – went past the rally. Hopefully the sight of Israelis and Palestinians protesting together and the messages shown above made them think again about the occupation.

After the rally everyone returned to Susiya, and for the Combatants for Peace participants it was onto their coaches to return to Israel, whilst the Palestinians remained on their land.

This demonstration was nonviolent and peaceful and, other than at the very end, was uninterrupted by the Israeli military forces.

At the end as one of the organisers from Combatants for Peace left Susiya he was stopped by Israeli security forces and questioned – but allowed to continue on his way.

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Israeli security forces questioning one of the organisers from Combatants for Peace [Photo: EAPPI/T.Mansbridge]

And again Susiya waits for the demolition bulldozers and the next awareness-raising event.

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Click here to find out more about the illegal and imminent planned demolition of the entire village of Susiya and use our template email and letter to write to your elected representative to ask them to take urgent action.