Posted By Ahmed Abdullah
October 5, 2007
As children all around the world choose their favorite backpack, stationary and school outfits; Palestinian children in Al-Akkaba only wish that they can finish their academic year on the grounds of their own school.
Israel claims that Al-Akkaba, located in the northern West Bank, was built with no authorization on a military zone and therefore should be demolished but what does that mean for the Palestinian residents of this village?
"All the buildings in this village suffer the same situation. They are expected to be demolished. The school, the kindergarten, the mosque, the clinic and all the houses," Othman Al-Ghoury, a school teacher, told the BBC.
That is not the worst that could happen for Al-Akkaba villagers who could also be homeless.
The BBC interviewed one of the clinic employees, Naime Dabek , who should pack all her belongings soon. “I'm going to sit in the house and let them pull it down on top of me," she said. "I'll poison myself and die. Where would I go? I'm a widow. I have no-one."
Ever since Israel seized the West Bank after the 1967 war, it gave itself the power to demolish any part of the occupied territory. With checkpoints everywhere, Israel effectively bans the Palestinians from moving freely in their own lands.
Now it looks like it’s Al-Akkaba’s turn to vanish, as the Israeli army claims that the village sprung up only a few years ago in a militarised zone, and that's why it had issued the demolition orders.
Sami Sadek, Al-Akkaba’s mayor, begs to differ, insisting that the village has been there for generations. It’s worth mentioning that Israel doesn’t allow Sadek to have his own office and that he is meeting the villagers to discuss their problems at a desk under a carob tree!
Moreover, water is a very rare commodity for Al-Akkaba villagers, who are forced to pay for water tanks if they wish to get any water at all.
"Our main problem is Israel's occupation," Sadek told the BBC. "It's not just about construction. We're not even on the water or electricity grid here. Israel can literally wipe us off the map."
Munjed Sbeh, a father of eight children and a farmer also complained. "The fact that we have to buy water affects us financially - instead of spending the money on our children's education or clothing for them, we have to buy water. Our farm is not stable.”
"This situation means our older children are going to cities like Jenin, Nablus and Ramallah for work instead of working here on the farm. We face huge obstacles”, Sbeh added.
UN officials who keep track of all the events that take place in the occupied Palestinian territories admit that Israel controls everything.
“The majority of Palestinians are facing the same problems as this village. Israel controls every aspect of life in the West Bank. Their infrastructure, their schools, their daily life. This will hinder any development, any hope. Any improvement of life for the Palestinians must have the co-operation of the Israeli authorities,” says Adeeb Salman, a UN humanitarian affairs officer.
All this makes the job harder for the Quartet’s new Middle East Envoy, Tony Blair, who should realize that the Palestinians do not just need aid, they also need to have the basic human rights in order to survive.