Israel to demolish EU-funded school in West Bank

The EU-funded school in the West Bank (Norwegian Refugee Council)

Middle East Monitor  /  October 15, 2020

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) announced on Wednesday that it is deeply concerned about the Israeli military’s planned demolition of a European-funded Palestinian primary school in the West Bank, a press release reported.

The NRC noted that the Palestinian school is located in Ras At-Tin herding community in central West Bank.

“These are some of the most vulnerable children, whose lives are already extremely hard, and Israel as the occupying power has a duty to ensure that they get their education and basic services,” expressed NRC Regional Director Carsten Hansen.

He added: “Instead, it [Israel] uses its power to do the opposite, denying them their fundamental right to education and paving the way for illegal settlement expansion.”

The school serves 50 students, from the first to the sixth grade, from the Ras At-Tin community, east of the West Bank city of Ramallah, who would otherwise have to walk around five kilometres to access the school in the nearby Al-Mughayyer village.

The European Union, several of its member states and the UK provided humanitarian funding for the construction of the school.

The NRC pointed out that Israeli military confiscated construction materials and tools on four occasions between 31 August and 10 September, including the school’s roof, desks and chairs, under the pretext that the school lacked an Israeli-issued building permit.

The NRC noted that Israeli authorities deny as many as 98 per cent of Palestinian requests for building permits in Area C of the occupied West Bank, where the school is located.

The NRC reported the Education Cluster, a forum coordinating humanitarian education response, stating: “Israel has partially or fully demolished three schools in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, so far this year, and 52 other schools are under threat of demolition.”

In 2019, the Education Cluster recorded 328 education-related incidents, involving access restrictions, attacks on students and staff, and the destruction of education infrastructure, affecting 19,913 students.

Since the start of 2020, the United Nations reported that Israel demolished 555 structures in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, forcibly displacing 747 people, including 382 children, and adversely affecting 2,722 others.

The structures included 217 residential properties and 45 water, sanitation and hygiene facilities. Donor states had provided 93 of the destroyed or seized structures as humanitarian relief.