Israel delays demolition of Bedouin school but says move is only temporary

Khan Al Ahmar In Occupied West Bank Is To Be Demolished
The school at Khan Al-Ahmar in occupied West Bank is to be demolished (Flickr / Peter Tkac,

Right to education

There has been an international outcry over plans to bulldoze the iconic tyres-and-mud school in the occupied West Bank.

Israel has delayed plans to demolish a school for Bedouin children after an international outcry – but insists the village of Khan al-Ahmar will still be bulldozed soon.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has frozen plans to knock down the homes and iconic school made from tyres and mud in the occupied West Bank.

His office said yesterday this was “to give a chance to the negotiations”  – amid reports that the Palestinian residents have agreed to relocate to another site.

But later he said of the demolition: “It’s our policy and it will take place. I have no intention on delaying it indefinitely but for a short, limited period.”

At a cabinet meeting last night, he added: “It will not take weeks – it will be much shorter.”

Israeli authorities say the small village, located east of Jerusalem along a road leading to the Dead Sea, was built illegally. It had given residents until the beginning of October to leave and demolish their structures.

Khan Al Ahmar School Demolition 1

Palestinian children play in the school of Khan al-Ahmar which Israel has ordered to be demolished (Bel Trew)

The decision to evict the villagers followed years of legal battles and after negotiated attempts to agree on an alternative site for relocation failed.

The fate of Khan al-Ahmar has sparked international objections. Many European countries have urged Israel not to go ahead with the planned demolition.

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor warned the “evacuation by force” of the village could constitute a war crime.

In July, students started the school year early in an effort to stop the planned demolition. Then they appealed to German chancellor Angela Merkel – who was visiting Israel – earlier this month to help save their village and school, which serves 170 children from Bedouin communities.

Muna Abu Dahouk, 12, said: “When I walk to school every day, I’m afraid my school will already have been demolished.”

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