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Five eggplants and a bulldozer

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As Teachers, Digitaries, and hundreds of mom (behind me) look on
Land Day performance at Al Aqaba’s Kindergarten. Children, Teachers, Digitaries, and hundreds of moms (behind me) look on

March 31, 2014

As it turns out, Monday was a long and remarkable day.

Mayor Haj Sami welcomes the guests.  In Arabic above the door it reads, "Rural Women's Society"
Mayor Haj Sami welcomes the guests. In Arabic above the door it reads, “Rural Women’s Society”

Among the many things I did — attended a performance by Al Aqaba’s Kindergarten children and dignitaries for Land Day, helped plant 6 olive trees after the ceremony, visit the Clinic in the town of Ein Al Beida with the Tubas Governorate Minister of Health (and answered questions from the doctors who asked me about Rachel Corrie), gently argued with the contractor and came to an agreement to finish the first Rebuilding to Remain home in time, joined a group of women to pick fava beans on the hillside then pulled greens and weeds to feed to the sheep and lambs, and fried newly-picked eggplant for dinner.

Al Aqaba Mayor Haj Sami Sadeq Watching Everyone Plant Olive Trees for Land Day
Al Aqaba Mayor Haj Sami Sadeq Watching Everyone Plant Olive Trees for Land Day

Well, in the middle of all that, an armored bulldozer came to the gate of Al Aqaba Village right next to the high school between Al Aqaba and Tayasir.

(Photo: Donna Baranski-Walker )
Al Aqaba Village, Jordan Valley, Occupied Palestine (Photo: Donna Baranski-Walker )

When I went over to talk with the Israel Army soldiers they said they were just training.   I called the Office of the Latin Patriarchate (its their land, owned by the Roman Catholic Church) and passed the phone to a soldier in the jeep.  The huge armored bulldozer, now fully unloaded, was being guided to cross a newly plowed field.  Holding my bag of 5 eggplants from Ein Al Beida, I walked over and just stood on the corner of the field where they wanted to pass.  It stopped, 20 feet away.  We all stood still for a while.  The driver got out and walked over to the jeep.

The head of the Al Aqaba Village Council, Haj Sami Sadeq was watching from down the street, 600 meters away when I called him.  He said, “Their training is ok as long as they stay outside the village gate.” This is per an agreement brokered by the Israeli High Court that has saved lives since 2002.  When he started back to the town, so did I.  As I left, the soldiers left too.

For Sadeq, Land Day was a great day to paint his house
For Sadeq, Land Day was a great day to paint his house

For Sadeq, Land Day was a great day to paint his house, the first in our Rebuilding to Remain program.  With his wedding in just a few weeks, there’s barely enough time to finish.  According to Mayor Haj Sami, “Al Aqaba is where the first national wedding will be held inside Area C in the closed military zone.”  Though 97% of the structures in Al Aqaba face demolition orders, we worked hard to see those orders frozen through the help of lawyers, citizens, elected officials, and diplomats around the world.  Al Aqaba’s Village Council is the first in Area C to have issued its own building permits, Rebuilding Alliance is the first to provide a mortgage loan that shares the risk with the homeowners.

April 1, 2014

I wish they sent that truck last night to take the bulldozer away.  Instead, the morning filled with the ratatat sound of machine gun training from all directions around the town making it too dangerous to go out for an early run.  As I left the village in a servees bound for Ramallah, instead of just one there were now two armored bulldozers and four armored personnel carriers, Israeli soldiers in training on the field next to the high school.

(All photos by Donna Baranski-Walker )

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Have the IDF nothing better to do than endlessly dream up more ways of harassing people who are just living their daily life? Imagine the conversations – “well they objected to our tank destroying a field, so let’s go back, do some random shooting and really tear up their land”.… Read more »

Donna, thanks for your report, we often don’t get enough information from the Northern area of the West Bank and for this reason it is so important. I didn’t realize this village has been targeted for demolition by the Israeli Civil Administration, and your report spurred me to do further… Read more »

Important Addendum: UNOCHA Humanitarian Update, April 2 Wave of demolitions in Area C displaces 60 people and affects over 30 others On 1 April, the Israeli authorities demolished a total of 32 Palestinian-owned structures in six locations across Area C of the West Bank, on grounds that they lacked building… Read more »

#1) Thanks for the updates, wishing you all remain safe.

#2) These reports re-affirm for me why I participate in the BDS movement.

#3) What are the chances that NYT will publish a report by Rudoren on how the IDF terrorizes this village?

Fear. That’s the only thing that counts. The odd thing is, most Israelis are scared too.

Thank you, Donna, for this ‘boots on the ground’ report.