Palestinian children attend class at school that began in 2018 in Khan al-Ahmar that will be demolished in the West Bank.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)
The Palestinian Authority opened the Khan al-Ahmar’s Rubber Tyre elementary school on Monday, weeks ahead of the new school year, to protest the pending Israeli demolition of the illegal West Bank Bedouin herding village.
“Today we say to the world that this school is like Palestine and the Palestinian revolution,” PA Education Minister Sabri Saidam said at the opening ceremony for the school.
He sat under an awning that had been set up in the small yard with green plastic grass, built next to the school made of mud and tires. It was funded primarily through an Italian non-governmental group.
Saidam said, “The money of the donors is being devoted for education, we are not using them to build iron domes or rockets. We are not using the money to suppress people. We want our children to say that the bullets inside our pens are stronger than the bullets in the canons.
“We are proud of each one of our sons and daughters. For us they represent the battle of steadfastness. From here, we declare the opening of the scholastic year 2018/2019,” Saidam said.
He explained that this school had a special role within the larger Israeli-Palestinian conflict because it could stand strong against Israel.
“How many schools have defeated weapons? Education, by God’s will, will defeat the occupation army,” Saidam said.
MK Ahmed Tibi (Joint List), who was among the officials who sat near him next to a Palestinian flag, also spoke at the event.
He tweeted after, “This is a battle between the occupation’s guns and the notebooks of the students of Khan al-Ahmar and I am with them.”
The right-wing NGO Regavim attempted to halt the opening of the Tyre school by asking the High Court of Justice to issue an injunction forcing it to remain closed.
“The chutzpah of the Palestinian Authority and its European collaborators have crossed every possible boundary,” Regavim told the media.
It said the battle of the Khan al-Ahmar residents to remain on the hill overlooking Route 1 was part of the PA’s plan to secure control of land in Area C near Jerusalem and the area of the Ma’aleh Adumim and the Kfar Adumim settlements.
“The PA has been operating for over a decade to illegally seize control of state land in the Adumim area, which is only 10 minutes from Jerusalem,” Regavim said.
“At the moment it seems as if the Israeli government is caving against to European pressure and is [only] enforcing the law [when it comes to illegal Jewish homes] in Amona and Ofra.”
The herding village of tents and shacks is home to the Jahalin Bedouin tribe. In the early 1950s, Israel relocated Jahalin Bedouin from the Beersheba area to the West Bank, when it was under Jordanian control.
Israel would now like to relocate the Jahalin in Khan al-Ahmar to a new neighborhood in the West Bank, the Palestinian town of Abu Dis, called Jahalin West.
It has offered to exchange their tents for permanent homes.
The Palestinians have argued that the Arab residents of that area are from a different tribe and have warned them not to move there.
They would like permanent homes on the land they now inhabit, which is a kilometer away from a new expansion plan for the Kfar Adumim settlement.
The PA has argued that the relocation of Khan al-Ahmar would also help pave the way for the construction of the E1 area of the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement.
The battle has reached international proportions with the United Nations and the European Union pressuring Israel not to demolish the herding village.
The High Court of Justice had initially given a green light to the demolition. But after IDF tractors had already begun preliminary work for the demolition, Palestinians issued two last minutes appeals to the High Court of Justice.
One of the appeals argued that the village was built on private Palestinian land, which means the IDF does not have authority to evacuate Khan al-Ahmar residents from the land.
The High Court of Justice has issued temporary injunctions against the demolition and has agreed to hear all new petitions to the case, including that of Regavim, no later than August 15.
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