Tree Planting in Aqaba

It is surely a celebration. Everyone is bustling about, preparing for the
day's activities. But it is different than a typical celebration. Instead of
carrying brightly colored drinks and holding plates of food, people are
carrying shovels and pick-axes to plant seedlings as part of a plan to grow
trees throughout the Jordan Valley. Palestinians consider trees as one of
the most effective weapons against the Israeli occupation.
In the eastern heights area overlooking the isolated Jordan Valley,
residents of several villages began this past Tuesday to plant different
kinds of trees as part of the campaign "For a Green Palestine," sponsored by
a local foundation.
The "celebration" was in full swing in the village of al-Aqaba, located at
the head of the eastern heights of the Jordan Valley, and designated for
demolition as part of settlement expansion. The residents are saying that
they are planting trees as part of an ongoing popular resistance campaign.
It is expected that more than 3,000 olive and evergreen trees, delivered by
the Palestinian Organization for Development, Dialogue and Democracy
"Wa'ad," will be planted in different areas around Tubas and the Valley.
The coordinator of the organization, Mahmoud Issa, said, "Planting one tree
in an area threatened by settlements is the most effective weapon to face
the Israelis." He added that several areas targeted by the Israelis will be
planted with olive trees.
Rashid al-Debik, a local villager, was busy putting twenty seedlings in a
cart, which he will be planting in front of one of the Israeli army's camps
adjacent to his village. He said that there is another forty dunums that he
will try to plant if the Israeli army allows him to do so.
Standing at the edge of al-Debik's land, near a large hole dug by the
Israeli army, one can see the vast area of the eastern heights. One man
helping with the project said that one of the biggest problems he and others
face is the shortage of water in the area.
Mohammad Hussein Jaber and other men from his family are busy moving olive
seedlings and evergreen trees. In an area nearby, a bucket-shovel begins
working, easily breaking through the moist soil.
In less than ten years, the village of al-Aqaba, which had been occupied by
Israeli soldiers and military camps, became a village bustling with people
and replete with trees.
The head of the village council, Sami Sadeq, said that the residents took
the responsibility to plant trees as a popular means of resistance. Sadeq is
responsible for organizing the process of distributing the trees and
planting them throughout the village.
Al-Debik is determined to plant his land that overlooks a military camp "I
will plant and they [the Israelis] will uproot it, but I will win in the
However, soldiers denied access to seedlings in a number of other villages
nearby without offering a reason. Residents of al-Maleh village in the
Jordan Valley reported that soldiers on duty at al-Tayaseer checkpoint at
the entrance of the Valley barred them from transferring 200 olive tree
seedlings to their village.
In that area, residents suffer from a shortage of water resources to
cultivated land. The area is under Israeli control in accordance with the
Oslo accords.
Since 2000, Israeli forces have uprooted thousands of olive trees as part of
its military policy. The construction of the wall has greatly damaged
agricultural life in the West Bank, since wide areas have been confiscated
or compromised by its construction. Reports indicate that the Israeli army
has bulldozed more than one million trees in the past few years.

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