The last demolition in Al Aqaba happened on September 15th, the day I arrived. Now the day before I leave for Jericho to renew my visa...they strike again. No one called me because I was supposed to be renewing my visa today. Instead I found out at the Wednesday night potluck on the Mount of Olives, when my friend Ryan asked me, "did you hear the news?" About what? "There was an SMS about Al Aqaba." I thought it must be impossible. Someone would have called me, and it could easily be Aqraba or Aqqaba. But I called Haj Sami just in case. In the middle of that crowded potluck table I asked, "Fi ay mishakel al-yom?" Are there any problems today? "mishakel ktir......" and I heard him say the word "street." He was choked up.
Now I'm back in Ramallah with internet, and Janice, who's staying in the guest house, sent me the e-mail she sent out to her list back home:
I've had a lesson today of what it means to live under occupation in a
part of Palestine called "Area C". it means living at the whim of the
Israeli military with very little recourse for justice. It means
that we can come into your peaceful world/village and cause as much
disruption as we think we would like to inflict. Palestinians living
in Al Aqaba are peacefully going about their business - children
attending school, the Mayor Haj Sami Sadeq busy in the office
preparing for the arrival of the Palestinian President tomorrow to
open the Tea Factory - a local initiative of producing herbal teas &
drying & packaging them with the cooperation or the Japanese Business
Association when his day was shattered to discover that militia from
IDF (Israeli Defense Force) were supervising their civilian
contractors to demolish two access roads to the village. One
ironically called the Peace Road has been destroyed twice before but
the 300 people living in the village and who have owned this land for
generations have never reacted violently at the continued destruction
of their village infrastructure. They have never thrown a single rock
at the soldiers or shown them anything but peaceful resistance. Haj
Sami Sadeq is a paraplegic as a result of being shot by the IDF when
he was 15 while working with his family on their land and yet he
harbors no resentment towards the occupying forces and has spent his
life working towards a peaceful solution to this oppressive situation.
The military were extremely angry today because their actions were
being recorded by "internationals" & even an Israeli citizen – an
American man & myself. The soldier threatened the Mayor Haj Sami
Sadeq that because of the fact he, the Mayor had invited people into
his village the military would return to carry out all the demolition
orders outstanding in the village.
The roads that have been destroyed are essential for the villagers to
carry on their everyday lives – moving stock around and working on
their land which they have done for generations – they are totally
dependent on agriculture as their sole source of income.
The military are trying to intimidate people into leaving so they can
continue to build settlements which are already breaking up the land
causing many restrictions on the lives of peaceful Palestinians trying
to get on with their lives…or at least some sort of life.
Just take a look at the photos & judge for yourself. Please take the
time to learn about & then inform others about infamous "Area C".
If I get this visa, I'm going back up to the village. There's probably going to be a demonstration on Friday. I'm guessing this happened because the President is about to come and there's usually a correlation between high-profile visits and demolitions. Hopefully the threat they gave isn't realized.