Israel set to raze 3,000-year-old village

The Israeli High Court is set to rule this week on the forced expulsion of all residents of the village of Khirbat Zanuta, southwest of Hebron in the West Bank. Israel Civil Administration ordered the demolition of Zanuta in 2007, on the absurd grounds that structures in the village were built without permits, but the High Court ruled that year that authorities must "find a solution" for the villagers before any eviction. But last year the Zionist organization Regavim, with a base of support among local Israeli settlers, succeeded in reviving the case by filing a new request for demolition. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which represents the Zanuta residents, says that in a High Court hearing last year, "the justices delivered harsh criticism of the State for its intent to demolish the village without suggesting a solution for its residents." But the demolition request was not dismissed, and villagers fear imminent eviction.

The Zanuta villagers consider themselves stewards of the ancient archaeological sites, and have guarded against any looting or destruction of artifacts. The village is located in what Israel calls "Area C," a designation created under the Oslo Accords in 1993 for land that was to remain under Israeli control, with a transition to Palestinian rule within five years. That never happened, and all areas designated as "Area C" in 1993 remain under full Israeli control today—and have been aggressively colonized by settlers over the past 20 years.

According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Zanuta is caught in "an absurd Catch 22 that penalizes residents for failing to apply for a permit they could never have been granted. If these demolition orders are carried out, the residents of Zanuta will be stripped of their most basic humanitarian rights: shelter, water, and livelihood, not to mention dignity, culture, and way of life. As an occupying power in Area C, Israel is bound by international law to protect the indigenous community." (IMEMC, Haaretz, Oct. 13; Maan News Agency, July 30, 2012)

Please support our fund drive.

  1. Repreive for Zanuta

    The State Prosecutor's Office made a request Oct. 12 to postpone the High Court hearing on the fate of Zanuta—less than 24 hours before the justices were scheduled to convene. (Haaretz, Oct. 13) The propaganda offensive is not abated. The right-wing Zionist blog My Right Word by Yisrael Medad attempts to shoot down the claim that Zanuta is 3,000 years old on the irrelevant basis that its "registered" population had dwindled to 27 by 2012. One wonders whether this reflects the actual population of the village—which the above-cited Haaretz report now places at 130. One also wonders what it has to do with the village's claim to antiquity. He also shoots himself in the foot by stating that Zanuta's ancient name—Dana or Dannah—was a "Judean city." This is of course an attempt to assert a Jewish claim to the village, but of course vindicates the very thesis that he attempted to debunk!

  2. Hundreds of settlers escorted to Joseph’s Tomb

    Hundreds of Israeli settlers escorted by Israeli troops arrived at Joseph's Tomb near Balata refugee camp east of Nablus early Dec. 3. Local sources told a Ma'an reporter that ten Israeli military vehicles escorted dozens of settlers' buses to visit the site at dawn in northern West Bank. Settlers performed religious rites throughout the early morning hours. While the settlers visited the site, a number of Palestinian young men gathered in the area hurling stones and empty bottles at Israeli soldiers. No casualties were reported. 

    Israeli settlers frequently visit Joseph's Tomb under the protection of Israeli forces, who regularly raid local Palestinian villages and fire tear gas into the neighboring Balata refugee camp during these visits.

    Despite lying in an area under Palestinian authority deep in the West Bank, Israeli forces maintain control at the site and prohibit Muslims from praying there.

    Palestinians believe that Joseph's Tomb is the funerary monument to Sheikh Yusef Dweikat, a local religious figure. Others believe that the tomb belongs to the Biblical patriarch Joseph. The area is sacred to Jews, Samaritans, Christians and Muslims alike.

    More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law. 

    From Ma'an News Agency, Dec. 2.