Israeli forces demolish Palestinian primary school in southern Hebron

| Ma’an |

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces demolished a Palestinian primary school late Monday night in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, leaving 42 children without a place to learn.

Locals told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided the small Bedouin community of Zanouta, and destroyed the school, which was built from cement blocks and tin sheets.

The school was inaugurated on March 26, along with six other schools in the area that were built to provide education for children in vulnerable communities in the area.

The now demolished structures held six classrooms and provided services to 43 school children, including 10 in kindergarten.

Despite the demolition, the school children still showed up to school on Tuesday in the cold rain. Their teachers conducted classes on the floor of the remaining structure.

The Palestinian Ministry of Education released a statement on Tuesday condemning the destruction of the school, describing it as “a new crime against educational institutions” and an “attack on the rights of students and children’s access to a safe and stable educational environment.”

“Does this school, which was built in a remote area, threaten Israel?” the ministry askined in the statement, reaffirming their position that the Israeli occupation “is the primary and fundamental instigator against the Palestinian people and its institutions, especially educational ones.”

According to a February statement from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 37 schools have pending demolition orders in Area C of the West Bank, which is under the full civilian and security control of Israeli authorities.

Meanwhile, in March, the ministry released its annual report for 2017 documenting the Israeli government’s violations against Palestinian education, saying that 80,279 Palestinian children and 4,929 teachers and staff were “attacked” by Israeli settlers or soldiers.

Area C, along with East Jerusalem, has been the site of rapid Israeli settlement expansions in contravention of international law, while Israel’s separation wall has further divided Palestinian communities and has restricted Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza from even visiting what was intended to be their capital.

Israeli rights group B’Tselem reported that in 2016 Palestinians experienced the highest number of Israeli demolitions since the group began recording the incidents. At the same time, settlement watchdog Peace now reported that Israel’s illegal settlement construction in the West Bank increased by 34 percent in 2016, with Israeli authorities initiating construction on 1,814 new settler housing units.

According to Palestinians and rights groups, Israel’s overall goal, both in its policies in Area C and Israel’s settlement enterprise, is to depopulate the land of its Palestinian residents and replace them with Jewish Israeli communities in order to manipulate population demographics in all of historic Palestine.