Israeli forces demolish Palestinian primary school

By agency reporter
September 11, 2017

On 9 September 2017 Israeli forces entered a village near Bethlehem where the local education authority was trying to rebuild a primary school. The troops surrounded the school and fired tear gas, stun grenades, and gunshots toward the workers and onlookers.

The school, in Jubbet al-Dhib, had planning permission and was built by local authorities and international NGOs partnered with the European Union. On 24 August 2017 Israeli forces had completely demolished it and taken away equipment, including small desks and chairs, the night before its grand opening. As a result 64 children were left without a school.

The European Union Representative and the EU Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah issued a statement condemning the demolition of the school, along with other recent instances of Israeli authorities targeting education instititions in the occupied West Bank. These included the confiscation of solar panels that powered a school in the Bedouin village of Abu Nuwar in the Jerusalem district, and the demolition of a kindergarten in the Bedouin community of Jabal al-Baba in the outskirts of al-Eizariya.

“Every child has the right to safe access to education and States have an obligation to protect, respect and fulfil this right, by ensuring that schools are inviolable safe spaces for children,” the statement said.

The EU missions demanded that Israel halt demolitions and confiscations of Palestinian property, and that properties that have already been confiscated be returned to Palestinians.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) also released a statement 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, said, “It was heartbreaking 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.”

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.

Israeli rights group B'Tselem also condemned the demolition, saying that the move "epitomizes the administrative cruelty and systematic harassment by authorities designed to drive Palestinians from their land."

* Independent Catholic News http://www.indcatholicnews.com/


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