Palestinian schoolchildren play outside a tent where they attend lessons after Israeli troops razed their school building in the West Bank village of Jubbet ad-Dib, near Bethlehem August 24, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel must rebuild the two modular Palestinian schools it demolished, the European Union said on Friday as it condemned the IDF actions against illegal Palestinian and Beduin construction in Area C of the West Bank.
“Every child has the right to safe access to education, and states have an obligation to protect, respect and fulfill this right by ensuring that schools are inviolable safe spaces for children,” the EU said in a statement put out by its offices in Jerusalem and Ramallah.
It spoke up after the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria demolished a modular kindergarten on Sunday in the Beduin herding village of Badu al-Baba, near Eizariya just outside of Jerusalem. On Tuesday, the Civil Administration took down a modular elementary school in Jubbet a-Dib, near Bethlehem.
Both schools were built with EU funding, but without permits, which are difficult for Palestinians to obtain from the Civil Administration.
Fadia Awash, whose child attended the school in Jubbet a-Dib and who heads the Women’s Society in the nearby town of Beit Ta’mir, said the school had been built on private Palestinian property.
It was meant to serve children who otherwise were walking 3 kilometers to the nearest school.
On Wednesday and on Thursday, many of the 80 children who had been enrolled in the Jubbet a-Dib facility arrived at the site anyway for class. A tent has been placed on one of the cement slabs where a modular classroom had stood.
Awash said their former school had refused to register them and no alternative had been found for the children.
The EU called on Israel to “halt demolitions and confiscations of Palestinian houses and property in accordance with its obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law, and to cease the policy of settlement construction and expansion, of designating land for exclusive Israeli use and of denying Palestinian development.
“The EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah call on the government of Israel to return the confiscated equipment and structures,” it added.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah also condemned the demolitions, adding that the IDF had confiscated equipment used to erect structures and arrested several humanitarian workers.
“Denying the community’s children their right to education, not to mention other fundamental rights, is a deliberate policy of the Israeli authorities to pressure Palestinian communities to leave, in order to confiscate their land and build additional settlements,” Hamdallah said.
On August 9, the Civil Administration confiscated solar panels used to power a kindergarten and primary school in the Beduin community of Abu Nawwar, he said.
Such actions are against international law, Hamdallah said. He called on the United Nations to force Israel to halt such activity.
According to the UN, Israel has demolished 192 illegal Palestinian and Beduin structures in Area C of the West Bank this year. Last year it took down 875 such structures, many of which were modular.
Under the Oslo Accords, Israel is in charge of both civil and security matters in Area C.