Palestinian school to be demolished despite EU struggle to save it
Right to education
Israel's supreme court has ruled that the school - which has 170 students from Bedouin communities - and the village where it's sited are to be knocked down.
A Palestinian village and its school are to be demolished by Israeli authorities – despite attempts by the European Union to save them.
The school in the Khan Al-Ahmar was made from tyres and mud eight years ago and serves about 170 students from five local Bedouin communities in the occupied West Bank.
After a long legal battle, Israeli’s supreme court ruled yesterday that the village – home to 180 people – can be demolished because it was built without the relevant building permits. No timescale was given and the court said the residents would be relocated.
The people of Khan Al-Ahmar have had their homes demolished before. Several of their buildings, including the school, were constructed by the EU or by EU member states.
The case has attracted international attention and the EU said demolition of the school would “severely impact” on Palestinian children’s right to education.
Before the court decision Philip Hall, the British Consul General in Jerusalem, said: “This community has been here a long time. We hope Israel will allow these people to live here decently. We think they should have the planning permission to do so.”
The Palestinian presidency said the ruling was an effort to “uproot the legal Palestinian citizens from their land to control it and to replace them with settlers”.
Israel has routinely demolished Palestinian homes and schools. In February, two classrooms for Bedouin children in the village of Abu Nuwar that were funded by the EU were knocked down. They were among more than 60 schools in the West Bank facing demolition or shutdown orders.
Last year, Palestinian children going back to schools in the occupied West Bank after the summer break were shocked to find their classrooms had been demolished or damaged.
The only kindergarten for the Jabal Al Baba Bedouin community was destroyed in the early hours in August – followed the next night by a primary school in Jubbet Al Dhib.
Last month Human Rights Watch said demolishing Palestinian schools violated children’s right to education. It added: “Israel has repeatedly denied Palestinians permits to build schools in the West Bank and demolished schools built without permits, making it more difficult or impossible for thousands of children to get an education.”
The United Nations agency that provides education for 525,000 Palestinian children has been battling to cope with funding cuts by the United States that threatened the future of its 700 schools.
It has enough money now to keep its schools open until the summer holiday, after $100 million was raised at a summit for UNRWA’s work on education, health and other services in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.