Open Peace Road; Don’t Block Kids from Getting to School in Al Aqaba!

I just got back from meeting with my friends at the Rebuilding Alliance who are walking the halls of Congress this week on behalf of a kindergarten in the West Bank village of Al Aqaba. They are asking members of Congress to press Israel to open and repave the now demolished Peace Road so that 200 children can reach their school in Al Aqaba without delay.

You can help open congressional doors by signing this petition, urging your elected officials to contact the Israeli embassy and ask them to open the road and fix what the Israeli army destroyed.

On April 7th, kindergartners looked out from their school bus to see Israeli soldiers destroying Peace Road, the main road in and out of the West Bank village of Al Aqaba. Al Aqaba’s kindergarten and school hosts children from throughout the area, and the demolition of this road threatens their access to education and the village’s connection to the Jordan Valley.

Last year, I stayed in Al Aqaba and fondly remember strolling down Peace Road with Al Aqaba’s mayor Haj Sami Sadiq and his family. As we would make our way down the road that afternoon, dozens of villagers would run towards us to greet Haj Sami. Haj Sami has been confined to a wheelchair since he was shot during an Israeli military live training exercise at age sixteen. But because the road was well-paved, he could still travel to meet with these villagers living far from his house.

Al Aqaba—like all of the West Bank’s Area C—has lived under the threat of demolition orders for years. In response to Michiganders writing in about Al Aqaba, Senator Levin sent a letter to the State Department inquiring about “the U.S. Embassy’s efforts to monitor this situation”. Soon after he sent his letter, the State Department became more engaged and an adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Al Aqaba.

Israeli soldiers told Al Aqaba’s village council that the road was destroyed because the area is a “closed military zone”. Adam Keller, the co-founder of the Israeli peace group Gush Shalom, writes about how Netanyahu’s recent speech declaring that Israel will always control the Jordan Valley may be related to the timing of the demolition of this road. Israel hasn’t offered any further explanation but if your member of Congress inquired, the Israeli embassy would be much more likely to provide a fuller explanation.

Amnesty International selected Haj Sami as one of the 11 recipients of the “Stand Up United” award, to recognize human rights defenders around the globe. Amnesty International also started a campaign to stop the demolition of Al Aqaba and other villages in the West Bank. It is time to ask members of Congress to stand up for the right to access to education for children throughout the Jordan Valley by calling attention to Al Aqaba, so make sure to sign their petition today!

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