Palestinians Rebuild School After Demolition by Israeli Authorities

Palestinians from the village of Jub Al-Thib rebuilt an elementary school on September 9 after it was demolished by Israeli authorities the day before the start of the school year. Located in the West Bank, Jub Al-Thib had only one school. Israeli authorities demolished it on August 22 on the grounds that it had been built without a proper permit. The school was also constructed with cement, which Israel has banned in the West Bank. About 55 other schools in the West Bank were faced with demolition or stop-work orders. The school in Jub Al-Thib was the fourth to actually be demolished by authorities.

The elementary school, serving 64 first through fourth graders, was built by residents of the village and was the first school to be opened there. Most of the funds for the project were given by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations. Before the school’s construction, the children of Jub Al-Thib had to walk over an hour to the nearest school nine miles away.

After the demolition in August, the school resorted to holding its classes in tents outside. The residents of Jub Al-Thib gathered to rebuild the school on the night of September 9, in direct opposition to Israeli orders. According to witness reports, Israeli authorities were present and fired tear gas canisters at the builders.

Israeli authorities have been criticized both domestically and internationally for demolishing schools all over the West Bank. Rami Hamdallah, the Palestinian prime minister, accused Israeli authorities of destroying the schools in order to prevent Palestinian children from gaining an education. The Norwegian Refugee Council also issued a statement condemning the demolition as part of “a wider attack on education in Palestine.”

Roy Yellin, a director at Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, said,“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.”

As the Israeli authorities continue to press demolition in the West Bank, Palestinian communities continue to search for alternatives to ensure the education of their children.