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Palestinian school under imminent threat of demolition
From: Elias Abuata
elias.abuata@nrc.no

Dear colleagues,


Please find attached and further down a press release issued today by the
Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Save the Children and Action Against Hunger
on the Palestinian school in Al Muntar that is under imminent threat of
demolition.


We have spokespersons in the Palestine and the region and can facilitate
visits to Al Muntar. Please let me know if you’re interested in interviewing
our staff or if you need further information.


Thank you for your kind cooperation and support.


Best regards,

Elias Abu Ata
Regional Communications Coordinator
NRC Middle East Regional Office
Mobile +962 (0) 79 5 216 331
e-mail: elias.abuata@nrc.no
www.nrc.no/syriaresponse
Skype: elias.abuata
Twitter: @eliasabuata



Press release

30 January 2018
Palestinian school under imminent threat of demolition

At least 61 schools in the West Bank and East Jerusalem at risk as attacks
on education rise. A Palestinian primary school built with European donor
funding is facing the threat of demolition by Israeli authorities in the
coming days, after the Israeli High Court of Justice dismissed a petition to
safeguard it, aid agencies Action Against Hunger, Norwegian Refugee Council
and Save the Children warned today.


The school is the only one serving the Bedouin community of Al Muntar, on
the periphery of East Jerusalem in Area C of the West Bank, which has
already suffered displacement and destruction of property in the past. The
school risks being demolished from 1st February onwards, when an injunction
protecting it from demolition expires. Currently, 33 pupils aged 5-11 attend
the primary school but it was meant to be expanded to receive over 70 pupils
this year.


This latest demolition threat comes as new figures gathered by aid agencies
reveal there are 61 schools in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, that
have pending demolition or stop work orders from the Israeli authorities.

If the Al Muntar school is demolished, many of the children may be forced to
drop out of education altogether, with the only other schools several
kilometers away and only accessible by foot or donkey, past an Israeli
settlement. The Israeli High Court of Justice ruled that the school was an
attempt “to create facts on the ground”, despite its crucial basic service
to the community.

“Attacks on West Bank schools are one of many elements making up the
coercive environment that pushes Palestinians off their land in order to
make way for Israeli settlement expansion,” said the Norwegian Refugee
Council’s Country Director in Palestine, Kate O’Rourke. “The Israeli courts
are threatening to demolish this school as they say it creates ‘fact on the
ground’. In reality, these are being created by illegal settlements, not by
Palestinian schools, which are needed to ensure Palestinian children’s
fundamental right to education.”

The Country Director for Action Against Hunger, Gonzalo Codina, said: “The
existing Palestinian schools are overstretched, and the Israeli authorities
are not issuing the required building permits for Palestinian communities
like the one at Al Muntar. Now that a donor-funded school is again at risk
of being demolished, we have to ask: Where can these children study safely?”


Across the West Bank, countless threats have been documented for Palestinian
children in simply trying to reach school and enjoy their basic right to
education. In 2016, there were 256 education-related violations affecting
29,230 students across the Occupied Palestinian Territory. These threats
include: threats of violence and harassment from Israeli settlers or
soldiers on the journey to school, military activity in or around their
schools, military or police arresting and detaining children from their
classrooms, lost time due to the closure of a military area or firing zone,
delays crossing checkpoints, threats of destruction and demolition of
schools and stop work orders.

Save the Children’s Country Director Jennifer Moorehead said: “Children’s
fundamental right to education is under growing threat. The school in Al
Muntar, a very remote and vulnerable community, has enabled children and
especially girls to attend school for the first time. Now children as young
as five face having their future demolished before their eyes. These safe
spaces for children must be protected not destroyed. Globally we see more
and more governments signing up to the Safe Schools Declaration, yet
Palestinian schools are facing ever greater threats. We urgently call on the
international community to increase diplomatic pressure on the Israeli
government to protect Palestinian children’s right to education and to
prevent the demolition and seizure of school infrastructure.”

The agencies said such demolitions are in violation of International
Humanitarian Law and children’s basic right to education, and directly
undermine the international community’s provision of aid to the occupied
Palestinian population, to ensure safe places for children to learn.

Notes to editors:

Spokespeople are available for interviews in Palestine and the region and
can facilitate visits to Al Muntar.

Photos of the school can be found for free use and distribution here. B-roll
and filmed interviews with Al Muntar students can be downloaded from here.


1 These figures were compiled by members of the Education Cluster, including
the Norwegian Refugee Council and Save the Children

2 Annual Children and Armed Conflict Bulletin:
https://www.unicef.org/oPt/Annual_CAAC_Bulletin_2016_FINAL_22Dec2017.pdf

3 The destruction of property in occupied territory is prohibited under IHL
unless absolutely necessary for military operations. See
https://www.ochaopt.org/theme/destruction-of-property


Area C makes up more than 60% of the West Bank and falls under Israeli civil
and military control. The Israeli government says it demolishes Palestinian
structures because they do not have building permits, however the
discriminatory Israeli system makes it virtually impossible for Palestinian
communities to receive permits.



For more information, please contact:



NRC: Karl Schembri in Jordan, karl.schembri@nrc.no, +962 7902 20159, or in
Norway the NRC media hotline, info@nrc.no, +47 905 62 329



Save the Children: Alun McDonald in Jordan,
alun.mcdonald@savethechildren.org, +962 791799287



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