The Center for Development Studies (CDS) started to conduct a series of Development Dialogue workshops complementing the discussion at the center had held in the previous week. On the 18th of December 2016 CDS held a first meeting in Al-aqaba village, north east of Tubas city to learn about their development experience.
The workshop was held in partnership with local organizations in the village; namely: the Rural Woman Organization, Al-aqaba Cooperative Agricultural Organization, Al-aqaba Development Organization for housing the displaced persons, Al-aqaba Hope and Unity Club, and Al-aqaba Village Council. The workshop was attended by the trainees of the program that targets the MA in social sciences students at BZU, and the program staff: Ayman Abdulmajid and Abaher Alssaqa.
The head of the village council, Sami Sadeq, gave a talk about the struggle of the people in Al-aqaba against the Israeli occupation policies, and the sacrifices they make as a means to resist and empower the residents of the village. They do so by working on three levels:
- The Israeli High Court of justice: the villagers were able to use legal means in order to achieve legal orders in favor of their struggle.
- The elimination of Tesva’ Military camp in 2003
- Banning the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) from entering Al-aqaba with tanks in 2003.
- Banning the IOF from storming the houses with arms.
- Donor countries: addressing the donor countries to rebuild the village and combat the demolition alerts. By this, Al-aqaba people were able to build the village’s different organizations, and to mobilize visits of 17 ambassadors from different countries to stand against building a wall that separate between the village and Tayaseer Village.
- Media outlets: The people of Alaqba were able to use international and local media outlets to gather support for the village and to create international pressure on the Israeli authorities, in order to gain their rights. Until now, the village received about quarter a million solidarity letters, in which different parties expressed their support for the villagers and opposition to the occupation and its policies.
The local organizations provided additional information related to the establishment of local associations and economic facilities. During the last years, the residents were able to establish a library that contains around 5000 books, a mixed school from first to the tenth grade, a medical herbal factory (the first of its kind in the West Bank and Gaza Strip), as well as a diary manufacture, two kindergartens for up to 165 children, a hotel that provides residence for foreigners, a and sport club.
The five organizations participating in the workshop were also established during this period. These organizations cooperate under the umbrella “Al-Aqaba Village Organizations Union”, while each organization retains its own independent character. They have already had great successes, such as buying agricultural tractors and exporting local products to countries like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
The workshop has shown the great capacity of local organizations to perform indispensable social and economic roles, to achieve political objectives and generate revenues for the people. The cooperative organization working in housing displaced people was able, for instance, to help three families return to their houses this year, and four families last year. In addition, it helps dozens of families to finish their houses, provides livestock and support in farming medical herbs to families.
Another evident positive impact of their work is that women gained working opportunities and were able to have educational possibilities that were previously unavailable. The head of the village council blames the PA and Palestinian businessmen for the fact that they did not offer any support for the village while many international parties did so by providing logistical and financial support.