The saga of ancient ‘Palestinian Sussiya’ – The town that never was

By Aryeh Savir
Tazpit News Agency

0The saga began fifteen years ago, when an Arab family erected a tent, illegally, near the archeological site of the ancient town of Sussiya in the Hebron area. As time passed the tent became a makeshift structure, which expanded into several structures. To give this illegal settlement character, and with the supports of extreme left-wing activists, the ‘ancient’ town of ‘Palestinian Sussiya’ was invented.
The town’s alleged plight of persecution by the Israeli authorities has been widely covered by the international press, who have been told of an ancient Arab town, whose residents have been unjustifiably driven out by the hostile Zionist entity.
This makes for a great human interest story, but for one setback – the ‘ancient Palestinian Sussiya’ never existed. It shows up on no records. The British Mandate held a survey of the villages in Israel in 1945. Palestinian Sussiya is not on the list. Aerial photos of the area from 1992 and 1999 reveal exposed terrain with no structures in sight. Aerial photos from 2012 show some 30 structures and tents. The ‘residents’ of ‘Palestinian Sussiya’ come from the nearby Arab town of Yatta, all members of the Nuwaj’a clan. There may have been some minor Arab-owned agriculture in the area, and the farmers may have lived by their fields in the adjacent caves during some of the seasons as is the custom in the region, but this was only temporary dwellings for a few months during the year. The area is in the C zone, under full Israeli control. The legal ownership of the lands is unclear as a result of lack of proper registration and documentation. The issue is currently under deliberation in the High Court of Justice, and so far the intruders were not able to prove ownership.
Actual archaeological excavations of the site revealed a real ancient Jewish town in Sussiya, dating back to the Talmudic period. The synagogue uncovered there is one of the biggest and most splendid to be discovered in Israel. The synagogue’s floor is covered with a spectacular mosaic with Hebrew and Aramaic inscriptions. Parts of a marble-made prayer altar were also uncovered. Many ritual baths can be found throughout the town. The spot was announced a national antiquities site. The notion of ‘Ancient Palestinian Sussiya’ is being promoted by extreme left-wing organizations and funded by European countries. They have been waging a war of attrition against the Israeli authorities on the issue.
Yigal Dilmoni, deputy director-general of the Yesha Council, told Tazpit News Agency that: “Fifteen year old Aerial photos clearly show that there was no Arab village at this site. These temporary structures that were built over the last decade were erected illegally and with no proper urban planning. The Arabs have come for the village of Yatta, and there they belong. They repeatedly disseminate lies, but that will not make them the truth. We are glad that the High Court of Justice has established that this site has no proper planning. We demand that the State of Israel and the Civil Administration not cooperate with these illegal actions and comply with the court’s ruling to stop the illegal construction.”

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