In pictures: back to school for 1.2m Palestinian students

Hands up who's happy to be back at school! These Palestinian students returned to the classroom this week in Khan Yunis, Gaza.

They were among 1.2 million students who went back to school in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

There had been fears that a lack of funding would delay the start of the academic year for thousands of Palestinian refugees.

But among those returning were 50,000 refugee students at 96 schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Scott Anderson, the Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank, joined children on their first day back at schools in Sureef and Halhoul.

He said: “The first day of school is a time for optimism and hope for the future.

Here are some more pictures of the first day back at school in the region. The first two are from Hebron, the others from Gaza.

“I remain greatly impressed by the work of our education staff and the potential for the future that our students demonstrate as they strive to uphold human rights values and contribute positively to society.”

Of the 1.2 million students who started school this week, 499,643 enrolled in the Gaza Strip and 693,165 in the West Bank.

See pictures from 2015's first day back at school