March 31, 2014
As it turns out, Monday was a long and remarkable day.
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.
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.
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, 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 )