Israel demolishes school in occupied West Bank forcing Palestinian children out of classrooms

Israel demolishes school in occupied West Bank forcing Palestinian children out of classrooms
2 min read
23 November, 2022
Palestinian children were forced out of their classrooms so Israeli forces could demolish their school in the occupied West Bank, said rights groups on Wednesday.
Israel demolished 295 Palestinian residential structures in 2021 [source: Getty]

The Israeli military demolished a school in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, an Israeli rights group said, following a court ruling earlier this year that upheld a long-standing expulsion order against eight Palestinian hamlets in the area.

B'Tselem, the rights group, said schoolchildren were inside the classrooms as Israeli forces arrived ahead of the demolition. Videos provided by the group showed a bulldozer tearing down the one-floor structure as soldiers stood guard nearby.

The Israeli military had no immediate comment.

Israel's Supreme Court in May ruled against the families in the area, known as Masafer Yatta, paving the way for the potential displacement of at least 1,000 people.

Rights groups say Israel has been carrying out a demolition of the structures in the area since the ruling, with the school the latest to be torn down.

The military declared the area a firing and training zone in the early 1980s.

Israeli authorities have argued that the residents only used the area for seasonal agriculture and had no permanent structures there at the time. In November 1999, security forces systematically expelled some 700 villagers and destroyed homes and cisterns, according to rights groups. The legal battle began the following year.

In its ruling in May, the Supreme Court sided with the state and said the villagers had rejected a compromise that would have allowed them to enter the area at certain times and practice agriculture for part of the year.

The families say they have been there for decades, from long before Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war. They practice a traditional form of desert agriculture and animal herding, with some living in caves at least part of the year, but say their only homes are in the hardscrabble communities now at risk of demolition.

The occupied West Bank has been under Israeli military rule for 55 years.

Masafer Yatta is in the 60 percent of the territory where the Palestinian Authority is prohibited from operating. The Palestinians want the West Bank to form the main part of their future state.