Just one day before the new school semester began, Israeli authorities destroyed the classrooms of dozens of Palestinian children in the village of Jub-Ad-Dhib in the occupied West Bank.
Some eighty children between the ages of five and ten were forced to attend classes in tents under the hot sun, after the steel cabins used as school buildings, along with other educational equipment, had been destroyed or confiscated by Israeli forces.
According to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, the area was also closed off, declared a military zone and packed with security forces who used stun grenades to deter locals.
“The demolition of a school building the night before the start of the year epitomises the administrative cruelty and systematic harassment by authorities designed to drive Palestinians from their land,” said Roy Yellin of B’Tselem.
This latest demolition, of a building that had been put in place by the European Union, is just one of a number in the last two weeks, where Palestinian communities have seen their educational facilities destroyed by Israeli forces, on the grounds that the buildings had no proper permits.
But critics of the Israeli policy say obtaining permits to build new infrastructure for Palestinian communities is next to impossible.
The European Union Representative and the EU Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah issued a statement expressing their “strong concern” over the recent string of Palestinian school confiscations.
Their statement included condemnation of not only the destruction of classrooms in Jub-Ad-Dhib, but also the confiscation of solar panels used to power a school in the village of Abu Nuwar, as well as the demolition of a kindergarten in the Bedouin community of Jabal al-Baba.
In response to Tuesday’s demolition, the Norwegian Refugee Council, NRC, also released a statement condemning Israel, saying it is part of "a wider attack on education in Palestine."
“It was heartbreaking to see children and their teachers turning up for their first day of school under the blazing sun, with no classrooms or anywhere to seek shelter in, while in the immediate vicinity the work to expand illegal settlements goes on uninterrupted,” said the NRC Policy Manager Itay Epshtain, who visited Jubbet al-Dhib, in the statement.