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TripAdvisor 'fueling rights violations' against Palestinians through Israeli settlement listings, Amnesty says

The Susya settlement was built on land confiscated from Palestinians [AFP]

Date of publication: 3 July, 2019

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Listings such as those for an archaeological site run by the illegal Israeli settlement of Susya are 'fuelling' human rights violations against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, Amnesty says.

Amnesty International has slammed TripAdvisor, Airbnb and other holiday-booking websites for allegedly fuelling rights violations against Palestinians in the West Bank

Companies such as TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Booking.com and Expedia are boosting tourism to illegal Israeli settlements, the human rights organisation said.

Residents of Khirbet Susiya, a small Palestinian village located in the South Hebron Hills, told Amnesty International camapigner Sabrina Tucci that a neighbouring Israeli settlement and archaelogical site frequented by tourist had devestated the lives of the entire community.

Neighbouring settlement Susya was built in 1983 on land confiscated from Khirbet Susiya villagers, displacing a number of residents who had lived around the ancient ruins of Susya 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.

The archeological site, along with a winery and vineyard inside the settlement of Susya, are listed as tourist attractions on TripAdvisor.  

"By promoting these sites to tourists around the world TripAdvisor is profiting from boosting the economy of a settlement built on stolen land that is driving human rights violations against Palestinians," Tucci said.

The archeological site's visitor centre sells good and produce grown or manufactured in the settlement and surrounding area.

On the other hand, the Palestinian community of Khirbet Susiya has lost its livelihood, Tucci said.

Read more: Dismantling Palestine, one brick at a time

Khirbet Susiya has lost large amounts of farmland due to settlement construction. Villagers have been forced to cut down the size of their herds - the main source of income for residents.

"The dispossession of the Palestinian community and the establishment of the settlement are war crimes," Tucci said.

The Israeli authorities have also refused to connect the village to water, electricity and the sewage system, forcing its residents to pay extra to have water trucked in.

To add insult to injury, Khirbet Susiya residents "live in constant fear", Tucci claimed.

Building permits are near impossible for Palestinians to obtain, yet absolutely vital, as homes constructed without permits are routinely demolished by the Israeli authorities.

Palestinian villagers are also faced with "systematic violence and harassment" from neighbouring settlers who are accused of damaging olive trees and other property owned by residents, as well as physically and verbally assaulting the villagers.

"I do not like going to school because of settlers," one 13-year-old girl told  Tucci. "They are armed with weapons. They are more dangerous than the army."

Calls by Amnesty for TripAdvisor to stop listing tourist attractions in illegal settlements have gone ignored, Tucci said.

"Companies have a responsibility to respect human rights and comply with international law wherever in the world they operate. This includes a responsibility to avoid causing or contributing to violations and the obligation to address such violations when they occur," the campaigner stated.

By listing such attractions, Tucci claimed, companies such as TripAdvisor are contributing to and benefiting from rights violations.

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