Arab students go on strike in Lod to protest demolitions

Seven homes housing 70 members of the Abu Eid family were leveled by the ILA, following years of court battles late last year.

Lod Demolition 311 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Lod Demolition 311
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Around 6,000 Arab public school children in Lod stayed home from school on Sunday, after the local parents’ committee called a strike in the city’s Arab school system to protest recent house demolitions in the city, and what they say is institutionalized neglect of the Arab school system on the part of the city and the Education Ministry.
Ihab Issa, head of the Monitoring Committee for Education Problems in Lod, said Sunday that the strike was called “first off as a protest against the demolitions of the Abu Eid family’s houses and the fact that the authorities haven’t presented them with an alternative.”
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Issa also described what he said was a litany of funding hang-ups in programs for Lod’s Arab schools, and neglect on the part of the authorities when it comes to Lod’s Arab school pupils.
Last Wednesday, Israel Lands Authority officials escorted by police took apart concrete slabs set up by the Abu Eid family for the purpose of setting up caravans. During clashes with police, three family members were lightly wounded and a few were arrested, including minors, according to witnesses.
In December, seven homes that housed around 70 members of the Abu Eid family were leveled by the ILA during a torrential downpour, following years of court battles.
On Wednesday evening, protesters set up a tent community at city hall and stayed overnight until late Thursday night, when they were cleared out by police and returned to the tents at the site of the original demolitions in December.
City Hall Chief Meir Nitzan issued a statement Sunday saying, “I’m sorry that extremist groups are inflaming the situation and involving students in issues of law and interfering with their studies. Anyone who thinks that protest actions of this sort will cause us to back down from our positions is mistaken.”
Nitzan said he is not willing to accept and vowed to demolish any new illegal construction. Under the Lod municipality’s policy, the city only destroys structures in which no one is residing.
In regards to the issue of neglect of the Arab school system, the Lod municipality said, “The policies being led by Mr. Meir Nitzan are equal and do not include any discrimination whatsoever.”
The statement also touted projects being put into effect by the city to invest NIS 45 million in building new educational institutions for the Arab public in Lod.
Meanwhile, the Education Ministry issued a response to the strike on Sunday, saying they oppose “the strike in the Lod school system, which harms the study routine of the students.”
The statement added that the number of students per classroom in Lod is consistent with the ministry limit of 40 students per room, and that the Lod school system is part of the ministry’s program to limit the maximum number of students per classroom to 32.