Israel demolition order of Palestinian school could leave dozens of children without education
Israeli forces on Wednesday issued a demolition order for a Palestinian school in Masafer Yatta region, the southern Hebron hills region.
The school in the occupied West Bank has been open since 2015, providing schooling for 54 children in the village of Shuub Al-Batn, Masafer Yatta. Closing the school will have catostrophic consequences for children in Masafer Yatta, the mayor said.
"If the school is demolished, most of the children will drop out," Nidal Younes, mayor of Masafer Yatta conglomeration, told The New Arab.
"All schools are kilometers away from the village, which is why we started the school in a four-room building."
Breaking!!! Demolition orders issued by the Israeli occupation forces for a school in the Palestinian village Shi'b al Batin in #MasaferYatta in the South Hebron Hills— #SaveMasaferYatta (@SoHebronWatch) August 3, 2022
As soon as authorities began to expand the overcrowded school four months ago, they received an order to halt the work by the Israeli civil administration, which controls the occupied West Bank.
"The lawyer we hired tried to delay the demolition order and buy some time, but we were surprised yesterday to see the Israeli civil administration staff leaving the demolition order on the school door," he added.
Masafer Yatta is a conglomeration of 12 Palestinian villages in the southern Hebron hills, home to around 1,500 Palestinians.
It is located in what was designated under the Oslo Accords as Area 'C' - under the complete direct control of the Israeli army and civil administration.
Area 'C' covers around 61 percent of the West Bank and Israel forbids Palestinians from building there except with special permits for specifically designated zones. Masafer Yatta is not among them.
4 UN experts strongly denounce the Israeli regime’s harassment of human rights activists trying to provide support for the Palestinian communities that face forced displacement from their houses in Masafer Yatta. pic.twitter.com/jhFsgpCYmp— PALESTINE ONLINE 🇵🇸 (@OnlinePalEng) August 3, 2022
"The Israeli army uses the region as a military training field," said mayor Younes. "The drills happen above our heads, bullets and remnants of explosives are all around us and beside houses."
"In addition, Israeli settlers attack our villages and shepherds regularly. They try to put pressure on us to leave."
In May, an Israeli court ruled that the residents of Masafer Yatta had failed to provide proof of permanent residency in the region before it was declared a firing zone by the Israeli army.
The ruling opened the way for what could be the mass expulsion of some 1,200 Palestinians from part of Masafer Yatta.
"People here live in tents or in old stone houses, while some here turned caves into homes," said the mayor.
"We depend on solar panels for electricity, while water doesn't reach all homes. We don't know what the future holds for us and it is not easy. No matter what happens, we will not leave."