Al-Aqaba: A Palestinian Village Fading in Time

Al-Aqaba: A Palestinian Village Fading in Time

Location and Population

Al-Aqaba is a small Palestinian village located in the northern slope of the Jordan Valley within Tubas governorate in the eastern terrains of the West Bank its total area is 3500 Dunums. According to the Oslo II Accord of September 1995, Al-Aqaba village was classified as Area “C” – falls under full Israeli administrative and security control-. Since the 1967 occupation, the Israelis have denied the village any forms of proper infrastructure or service; even more the village was not allowed to identify its master plan. It was not until 1997 that the village had its first ever elementary school, which was established by the Palestinian National Authority; that is when children did not have to go to schools in nearby villages (1-3 kilometers).


Recent Proceedings

The Israeli High Court of Justice held hearing on the lawsuit, filed by Residents of Al Aqaba village, near the West Bank city of Tubas. The lawsuit demands to revoke the Israeli Army’s military order # (143/04) issued on May 8, 2007, which concluded the confiscation of 80% of village’s lands and to demolish any resident or structure that is no longer within the village’s master plan as set by the Israeli Army. The court hearing ended without a decision, this means that the order still stands but that did not last; as on the 28 of April the Israeli High Court issued a decision validating and corroborating the Army’s decision to demolish all the Palestinian houses outside the newly defined master plan for the village. See Map 1  



The story began almost a year ago, on May 10, 2007, when the Israeli Army handed out Al-Aqaba village council a map in which the village boundary is set to new parameters, the map showed an Israeli plan to redraw the village’s boundary in accordance to military needs. Accordingly, some 80 % of the village lands were lost. The Israeli plan has taken almost all the agricultural lands, grazing lands and the areas on which the village may expand its built-up area in the future. The Israeli Army is set to demolish all of the houses located outside the new village boundary as defined by the military order.


Israeli military Bases in Al- Aqaba area

The area were Al-Aqaba village is located is also packed with Israeli military bases, three Israeli military bases in particular established in the areas surrounding Al-Aqaba village ( Tsivi, Cobra 1 , Cobra 2), the Israeli Army frequently conducted military training, terrorizing the village’s inhabitants. Over the past decades of Israeli occupation and due to the Israeli military practices and violent behaviors; the population of Al-Aqaba village diminished from 1000 inhabitants in 1967 to 73 today (PCBS 2006). More than that the Israeli practices have caused the death (shot during live ammunitions practices) of 8 people and injuries of more than 50 people since 1971.


Demolition Warnings in Al-Aqaba Village

On May 8, 2007, the Israeli Occupation Army handed out military notices to six residents from Al-Aqaba village to demolish their residential houses under the pretext of building without licenses. The residents’ owners who received demolishing warnings are Sufian Hussny Ali Sbeih, Ni'ma Mahmud Rashid 'Abed El Razeq, Najed Sedqy Mahmud Sbeih, Munjed Sedqy Mahmud Sbeih, Khaled Sabry Da'oud Fetyan, and Salah Salem Mohammad Jabber. See table 1 & the map 2 below for more details. below for more details.



Table 1: Details of Israeli Military notices to residents of Al 'Aqaba

Owner's Name

Type of structure

Khaled Sabry Da'oud Fetyan


Munjed Sedqy Mahmoud Sbeih


Ni'ma Mahmud Rashid 'Abed El Razeq


Najed Sedqy Mahmud Sbeih


Salah Salem Mohammad Jabber

Agricultural pool

Sufian Hussny Ali Sbeih



The owners of the houses who received the warning notices filed objections against the Israeli Army to stop them from carrying out the demolishing order and currently they are pending court hearings. The Israeli demolishing orders comes in sequence to series of demolishing orders issued by the Israeli Army over the past few years in Al-Aqaba village that has been a target of the Israeli Army for a long time as several military bases of the Army surrounds the village and control the movement of the the residents and accesses to their agricultural lands and other areas in the West Bank including their ability to market their agricultural products.

Previous acts of demolitions in Al-Aqaba village:

As mentioned earlier in the case, Al-Aqaba village received dozens of Israeli military orders for houses demolishing with regard to building without proper licensing. During the years period between 2003 – 2006, the residents of Al-Aqaba village received 29 demolition warnings by the Israeli Army to demolish so-called illegal structures built without proper licensing, these demolishing orders targeted; an agricultural pond, a mosque, a kindergarten (built in 2002 with the funding provided by the US-based 'Rebuilding Alliance' and the Japanese and Belgian Embassies and the Norwegian People), the village’s warehouse for electrical generator, two cement built rooms and 22 houses, in addition to an order to bulldoze a 500m long by 4m wide newly asphalted road used by the residents of the village to access areas in the West Bank. The residents of Al-Aqaba village and its council filed for injunctions on the Israeli Army’s demolishing orders, but were postponed for sometime, still the Israeli Army went with demolishing warnings and actually razed seven houses and destroyed the agricultural pond under the pretext of build without licensing and in close range to the Israeli Army’s military bases in that area; as for the remaining demolishing orders they are pending court orders, but the owners and the village council fear that the Army will not wait until the court ruling is out and just carry out their will and demolish the rest of the structures.


Something to consider

The fact that Al-Aqaba village lay in area identified by the Israeli Army as closed military area has a lot in what is happening there. More than that, the fact that the entire West Bank territory is occupied and administered by the Israeli Civil Administration, which is basically the Israeli Army makes any decision issued from any Israeli court, including the Supreme Court irrelevant and insignificant. The Israeli Army has the power to override and discard any decision from any Israeli court under the pretext of “security” and “the well being of the state and people of Israel.” On the ground, there are military courts and they are the ones entitled to issue any decision that is binding to the Israeli Army.




Prepared by 
The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem


Categories: Confiscation