Sunset in Susiya
On July 2, as the sun began to drift towards the western hills behind Susiya, two large bulldozers atop transport carriers arrive at the entrance to the village of Susiya with a large Israeli flag flying over each transport. The first continues past the village entrance to the military outpost just down the road where the dozier is unloaded. The second transport and dozier stays parked in the highway blocking the entrance to Susiya. About a half dozed children gather to observe the equipment along with village elder Abu Jihad Nawaja. The transport driver and village elder sit in their respective places watching each other as my Swedish teammate and I film and photograph what is happening. Some minutes later, a military escort vehicle comes and has directs this second bulldozier to proceed up the road to the military bases where it is also unloaded. Moments later a third transport carrier travels by Susiya on its way to the adjacent military compound. This third carrier brings a mammoth sized piece of equipment that appears to be folded steel girders and plates, something that could possibly be an instant bridge or crossing so that heavy equipment could travel across. Possibly over the boulders that line the entrance to Susiya.
As the sun finally sets over the hills, the residents of Susiya continue on with their daily rhythm of Ramadan and the evening Iftar, the breaking of the fast. Yet, on this night there is a heightened and palpable feeling of stress and anxiety in the village. As we went further into the night, the residents were outside their dwellings and actively discussing the staging of heavy equipment just down the road and within eyesight of the Susiya School and the medical clinic. There is deep concern this staging of this equipment is the first step in an imminent demolition.
Rev. David Etherington is participating in a program with Church World Service as an Ecumenical Accompanier serving on the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). The views contained herein are personal to him and do not necessarily reflect those of the sending organization, CWS, or the WCC.