Despite the threat of imminent destruction, the residents of Susiya continue striving for a better future and investing in the younger generation. This village in the South Hebron Hills was completely demolished twice before and faced many other struggles throughout the years. Now, when they were finally hoping for a chance to have their village recognized, an Israeli High Court judge decided that the army can destroy any unauthorized construction. The looming expectation of the demolition orders for all the village’s structures haven’t stopped the residents of Susiya from running various programs and activities for their children. These activities also serve as a message to Israeli authorities and settlers that the village won’t surrender and give up their dream and right of continuing to inhabit their land. It is also part of a general advocacy campaign that has raised Susiya’s profile, and so far, is seemingly playing a major role in deterring demolitions.
On June 14, the Nrsan Center, an NGO from Yatta that runs youth summer camps, carried out a series of activities and games with the children of Susiya, from painting to ball games. On June 23, the NGO Rebuilding Alliance led a “Pinwheels for Peace” activity for the children of Susiya. In this activity, children drew the meaning of peace on a square piece of paper that they made into a pinwheel. For most children the idea of “peace” was expressed in drawings of doves, butterflies and flowers on the pinwheels. This event was part of an initiative that is advocating for the rights of Palestinian children in the U.S. Congress.
Like most Palestinians, the people of Susiya have endured the hardships of the Israeli military occupation for decades. And with this endurance, they have also learned to embolden themselves. The pure and basic act of existing is a form of resisting the constant attempts to obliterate a local culture. Living with joy and teaching the younger generations the values of life and peace, are all ways to keep up the struggle without abandoning dreams and hopes for the future. As Rafeef Ziadah, Palestinian spoken word artist, says about the virtue of her people: “We teach life, sir”.