Israeli authorities have destroyed three Palestinian schools in the occupied West Bank following the summer holidays.
The European Union has condemned Israel’s action, which came just days before classes were due to start last month.
In a statement, the EU expressed “strong concern about the recent confiscations of Palestinian school structures undertaken by Israel in Bedouin communities in the occupied West Bank.”
Over the past weeks, Israeli has reportedly demolished three educational facilities for Palestinian kids– donated by the EU and NGOs – on the grounds that they had been build without permission. The destroyed facilities included the only kindergarten for the Jabal Al Baba Bedouin community as well as a primary school in the Jubbet al-Dhib village in central West Bank.
The demolitions reportedly left up to 80 kids, aged between 5 to 10 without school, forcing them to start the school year on Wednesday in tents or under the hot sun.
The EU statement further said, “Every child has the right to safe access to education and states have an obligation to protect, respect and fulfill this right, by ensuring that schools are inviolable safe spaces for children.”
It reiterated the occupying nature of Israel and requested the authorities in Tel Aviv to halt demolitions “in accordance with its obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law, and to cease the policy of settlement construction and expansion, of designating land for exclusive Israeli use and of denying Palestinian development.”
Meanwhile, B’Tselem, an Israeli rights group, also strongly slammed the measure and pointed to its “cruelty,” given it was carried out on the brink of the new school season.
“The demolition of a school building the night before the start of the year epitomizes the administrative cruelty and systematic harassment by authorities designed to drive Palestinians from their land,” B’Tselem said.
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) also released a similar statement, condemning Israel for the confiscation as part of “a wider attack on education in Palestine.”
The Norwegian statement read that “it was heartbreaking to see children and their teachers turning up for their first day of school under the blazing sun, with no classrooms or anywhere to seek shelter in, while in the immediate vicinity the work to expand illegal settlements goes on uninterrupted.”
According to the NRC, some 55 schools in the occupied West Bank are threatened with demolition and stop-work orders by Israeli authorities, many of them built with funding from the European Union states and other donors.