Bedouin school demolished by Israeli authorities

By agency reporter
July 5, 2018

More than 170 children at Al Khan Al Ahmar in the West Bank have lost their school following a demolition carried out by Israeli authorities on 4 July 2018.

Forty-four schools in the West Bank are at risk of demolition. Save the Children has called for immediate commitments to protect schools and the right to learn for thousands of children across the West Bank.

This follows the decision taken by the Israeli High Court of Justice on 24 May to overturn the injunction protecting the community, marking an end to many years of legal efforts and leaving virtually no legal options to protect local Bedouin residents from having their community, including their school, demolished.

Thousands more Palestinian children living under Israeli occupation are at risk of losing their right to learn, as well as their homes. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there are currently 44 schools that have been issued demolition orders, further threatening children’s ability to access education in the Palestinian Territory.

Jennifer Moorehead, Save the Children’s Country Director in the occupied Palestinian territories, warned the demolitions could have a grave psychological impact on children.

“The impact these demolitions have on the wellbeing of children, and their ability to learn and feel safe, cannot be understated and must not be accepted,” Ms Moorehead said.

In the first seven months of 2018, four schools have been demolished. This is already more than the total number of demolitions that took place in 2017, indicating a sharp increase in the demolition of educational facilities. On top of this, in many locations children and teachers face daily violence, injuries, humiliation or even arrests on their way to school or during the school day.

Nabil (for reasons of protection, his name has been changed) is 15, and has been attending the Khan Al Ahmar school for eight years. “All my siblings went to this school and all the community helped build the school, so we had many memories here. This demolition will ruin our future”, he said.

Like many others, Nabil worries about how he will continue his education without a nearby school and faced with forced relocation.

"School will be far away because we will be living on the mountain, and we will have to walk really far to get there. There is no one there, no friends, nobody and it will be hard on us".

The principal of Al Khan Al Ahmar school, Haleema a- Zahuyqa, said her students – some as young as six years old – would lose their basic rights to a safe home, including play, protection and education.

"The children are under pressure – particularly emotional pressure. They are not sleeping, they are tense, and they have headaches and are scared,” she said.

Moorehead said the demolition was a breach of international law and internationally recognised provisions to protect schools in conflict areas: “Schools must be safe havens where children are able to learn and shape their future.”

 She also warned this demolition could be a watershed case that would open the door for more to follow. “A line must be drawn to ensure that no further demolitions occur and that even more children do not see their education in jeopardy”, she said.

“The Israeli government must make every effort to allow for the unhindered passage of students and school staff through checkpoints on their way to and from schools, and to ensure that schools are recognised as protected, safe places for children.

“We also urge the Israeli government to take measures to protect children’s right to education and sign up to the Safe Schools Declaration. Education is a human right that no child should be denied.”

* Save the Children International https://www.savethechildren.net/

[Ekk/6]

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