By: Dan Bergin
Israeli forces have once again entered a village near Bethlehem today, 9 September 2017, where the local education authority is trying to rebuild a demolished primary school. The Israelis surrounded the school, fired tear gas, stun grenades, and gunshots toward the workers and a horrified crowd.
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 completely demolished the school and took away equipment, including small desks and chairs the night before its grand opening. As a result 64 children were left without a school.
See: ICN report: Bethlehem: Israel destroys new school - night before grand opening www.indcatholicnews.com/news/33249
The European Union Representative and the EU Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah issued a statement condemning the dismantlement of the school, along with other recent instances of Israeli authorities targeting education instititions in the occupied West Bank, including 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 at the time 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, was quoted in the statement as saying, “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."
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