Days after residents in an isolated Bethlehem-area village received stop-work orders for mobile homes being set up as a school – structures for which locals insisted they had obtained the necessary permits – Israeli forces reportedly raided the village Tuesday and stole the classrooms.
The raid into Jubbet al-Dib came a day before the first day of the school year, leaving some 64 students from the 1st to 4th grade without a school to attend on Wednesday.
Locals reportedly attempted to block the theft of the classrooms. Israeli soldiers fired tear gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets at the residents to disperse them.
Talk about resilience seeing this pic of Palestinian children returning to school only to find their classroom bombed in occupied territory pic.twitter.com/G3N3im1FJK
— Nesan (@ttnesan) August 23, 2017
Education Department head, Sami Marwa, said teachers and staff had been preparing for the first day of school since Sunday. The school consisted of eight mobile homes. Israelis also stole vehicles donated by an Italian NGO.
The Norwegian Refugee Council released a statement later Wednesday condemning Israel for the confiscation as part of “a wider attack on education in Palestine.”
NRC Policy Manager Itay Epshtain, who visited Jubbet al-Dhib this morning, was quoted in the statement as saying, “It was heart-breaking to see children and their teachers turning up for their first day of school under the blazing sun, with no classrooms or anywhere to seek shelter in, while in the immediate vicinity the work to expand illegal settlements goes on uninterrupted.”
While locals did all they could to save it, Apartheid Israel demolished another Palestinian school in Bethlehem https://t.co/WeqQHJ2psD
— pro/palestine 🇵🇸 (@sporadefcb) August 23, 2017
According to NRC, some 55 schools in the occupied West Bank are threatened with demolition and stop-work orders by Israeli authorities, many of them built with funding from the European Union states and other donors.
“In the first three months of this year there were 24 cases of direct attacks against schools, including incidents where tear gas canisters and sound bombs were fired at students on their way to or from school. Last year, four communities’ educational facilities were demolished or confiscated and 256 education-related violations were documented in the West Bank, affecting over 29,000 students,” NRC’s statement said.
“Just when they were due to return to the classroom, Palestinian children are discovering that their schools are being destroyed,” NRC Country Director for Palestine, Hanibal Abiy Worku, said. “What threat do these schools pose to the Israeli authorities? What are they planning to achieve by denying thousands of children their fundamental right to education?”
5 challenges face Palestinian school students https://t.co/W4BAfbYzVu
— Palestine Zone (@Palestine_Zone) August 23, 2017
“We call on the governments and donors funding Palestinian children’s education to exercise all of their influence to prevent this violation in all its forms,” Abiy Worku said. “The destruction of educational structures funded by European money is not just a violation of international law. It is also a slap in the face to the international community providing aid to the occupied Palestinian population in a bid to ensure safe places of learning for children.”
Another school, a kindergarten, was demolished in the Bedouin community of Jabal al-Baba on August 21.
Israeli police stationed in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem prevented 100 textbooks being delivered to schools located inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Tuesday.
(Maan, PC, Social Media)