A Palestinian mayor issues desperate appeal to the world to restore his village’s lifeline

Israel/Palestine
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hajsami
Haj Sami Sadiq, at destroyed road last October

Yesterday the Israeli army again destroyed roads linking Al Aqaba in the Jordan Valley (Area C) to neighboring villages.  This is the letter Mayor Haj Sami Sadiq wrote yesterday. His update of conditions is near the end…. 

We, the 300 residents of the community of Al Aqaba, which has been in existence for generations, owners and inhabitants of the land even before the entrance of the IDF, are addressing you as a last resort. For decades Israeli soldiers used the village as, a training area a playground where live ammunition was used, which took the lives of 8 of our people and injured 38. Amongst them the head of our municipality Haj Sami Sadik, who as a result is now paralyzed from the waist down .

Despite those acts of aggression, we have never resorted to violence, no terrorism has come from our people, no stone was ever thrown and we continue to call for coexistence and peace. In 2003, after petitioning the Supreme Court, the training camp was evacuated from the village only to have the civil administration place demolition orders on most of our buildings in 2004. Included in these demolition orders were the mosque, kindergarten and local health clinic with the rationalization that these structures were built without permission. In area C, which comprises more than 60% of the west bank, including Al Aqaba, the civil administration has rejected 94% of building permits requested by Palestinians. Meanwhile, Israeli settlements have been expanding at an accelerated rate. In 2007 we brought a demand to the Supreme Court for the cancellation of demolition orders, as well as presenting a renewed zoning plan for the community. In response the civil administration offered to approve permits for the small central area where most of the public facilities are located, but more than half of the residential areas would continue to have demolition orders outstanding. This offer excludes the residential area where most of our population’s homes stand, as well as all of the cultivated land. Obviously this is in contrast to Israel’s obligation as an occupying force, which according to article 43 of the Hague International humanitarian law must “restore and ensure public order and safety” in the occupied territory.

Today April 18th 2012 at 11:00 am IDF soldiers accompanied by private contractors appeared without with out prior notification to demolish 2 access roads to the town, named “Road of Peace” and Road of Displacement”. The roads we build with our own hands in order to exercise our right to freedom of movement. These roads are part of our lifeline, as our sole source of income relies on our ability to move our agricultural goods to the market. This is the 3rd time that the “Road of Peace” has been demolished. On all of the previous occasions we did not take any action. This time the demolition came with a threat. An abusive officer in a jeep numbered 65539 advised our Mayor that he will return for larger scale demolitions in retribution for the observation of the road demolitions by internationals. These threats were made to a man who is in a wheel chair urging away the small group of less than 10 curious individuals. We are upset and disconcerted that our children witnessed this atrocity and fear for the psychological effects that it may have on them in the future.

We, the community of Al Aqaba, our international and Israeli guests, are calling for you to visit and see for yourself the harsh conditions we are forced to live through daily as a result of this harassment. Please help us circulate these words and help us live in peace. Citizens of Al Aqaba

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