At one o’ clock in the morning on Oct. 10th, 2012, three Israeli military jeeps drove through Al Aqaba Village to Mayor Haj Sami Sadeq Sbaih’s house at alarmingly high speed. They banged on his gate and yelled for him to open immediately. Because he is paraplegic, Mayor Haj Sami needs time and assistance to get out of bed. Before he was able to approach the soldiers, they fired bullets above his house and then drove away firing into the air. Villagers were terrified for Mayor Haj Sami and his elderly mother who lives with him.
Mayor Haj Sami received no message from the soldiers — neither oral or written. This raid seemed to be an intimidation tactic against the mayor, a peace advocate who continues to build and welcome visitors despite demolition orders against 97% of his village. Forty years ago at the age of 16, Mayor Haj Sami was shot by Israeli soldiers when working in the fields with his parents, and since then has been wheelchair-bound. He was the first casualty in the Israeli Army’s live-fire training exercises that killed 12 people and injured 36. In 2002, by order of the Israeli Court, the Israeli Army signed an agreement barring live-fire training exercises within Al Aqaba Village, but the next year the Army issued demolition orders against the kindergarten, the mosque, the medical clinic, and most of the homes.
“I was not afraid, but the people were frightened,” said Mayor Haj Sami, “I will stay steadfast and serve the citizens, God willing, these criminal acts will not scare me.”