US Representative praises 'resilience of Palestinians' after visit to occupied West Bank

US Representative praises 'resilience of Palestinians' after visit to occupied West Bank
US Democratic Representative Andy Levin visited a village in the south of the occupied West Bank, where he witnessed Israel cutting the water supply of Palestinian residents.
3 min read
07 November, 2019
Representative Andy Levin (right) visited the Israeli-occupied West Bank [Getty Images)
A United States representative visited a village in the occupied West Bank Tuesday, where he witnessed the Israeli government denying local residents access to water.

Democratic Representative Andy Levin visited the Palestinian village of Susiya, south of Hebron, and saw the Israeli government lay in pipes across the village to deliver water to a nearby Israeli settlement.

"Yesterday, I traveled to the southern West Bank, including the Palestinian village of Susya, which the Israeli government has destroyed twice and currently denies access to water," Levin tweeted.

"Yet we watched the government utility, right before our eyes, lay in pipes right across the village's land to deliver tap water to an illegal Israeli outpost nearby," the Michigan congressman added. 

"It was simply incredible. As angry as the situation made me, the resilience of the Palestinian villagers left an even stronger impression."

Susiya, a rocky hamlet of several hundred people, is one of more than a dozen Palestinian herding communities in the southern West Bank.

Consisting mostly of tents, and without running water or electricity, the village has risen to international prominence in recent years as it faced demolitions by Israel.

At the heart of the matter is the over 62 percent of the West Bank that was placed under Israeli control under interim peace accords two decades ago.

This land, called Area C, is home to more than hundreds of thousands illegal Jewish settlers, more than double the number of Palestinians living there.

Read more: Dismantling Palestine, one brick at a time

Israel has blocked virtually all Palestinian development in Area C, while expanding the Jewish settlements there. 

Susiya is flanked by an illegal Jewish settlement built in 1983 on land confiscated from Palestinian villagers, displacing a number of residents who had lived around the ancient ruins for decades.

Three years later, the Israeli government declared the ruins and surrounding village land an archaeological site, subsequently forcibly evicting all of the Palestinian inhabitants.

Tlaib and Omar

While Representative Levin can visit the West Bank, two prominent and outspoken Democratic lawmakers were banned from visiting the West Bank in August. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office banned Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from visiting the West Bank and Jerusalem, as from their itinerary "it became clear that they are planning a trip whose sole purpose was strengthening the boycott and negating the legitimacy of Israel".

The decision was announced shortly after President Donald Trump tweeted that it would "show great weakness" to allow the congresswomen in.

Trump also claimed that the pair "hate Israel and all Jewish people".

Tlaib is originally from the West Bank city of Ramallah and her father grew up in Beit Hanina in East Jerusalem.

Read more: The Palestine Brief: How Israel shot itself in the foot by banning Omar and Tlaib

Palestinian-American Tlaib and Somali-American Omar have been vocal about their solidarity with Palestine, and have been the subject of repeated attacks by Trump in recent weeks, including a series of racist tweets.

In July, the US Congress voted overwhelmingly to condemn the international movement to boycott Israel over its human rights violations and continued occupation of Palestine in a rare bipartisan vote.

Just 17 lawmakers voted against the non-binding resolution to condemn the BDS movement – a movement that Palestinians say is one of their only channels to raise awareness for their plight for freedom. 

Among them were Omar, Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, members of the trendsetting liberal group of congresswomen known as "the Squad". Fellow "Squad"-member Ayanna Pressley voted for the resolution.

Under Israeli law, authorities can deny entry to individuals who support boycott movements.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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