Israel orders demolition of new Palestinian school in occupied West Bank

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An Israeli court on Thursday ordered the demolition of a new Palestinian school in the occupied West Bank. The court ruled that Ras al-Tenneen school in eastern Ramallah city was built without the necessary construction permit and rejected an appeal against its imminent demolition, according to Abdullah Abu Rahma, a Palestinian activist. Rahma told Anadolu Agency (AA) that some 50 children were already enrolled in the school, which was recently built and is run by the Palestinian Education Ministry. He said Palestinian activists have started gathering at the school to prevent Israeli officials from razing the structure. The school is located in a part of the occupied West Bank classified as Area C which accounts for around 60% of the West Bank territory and remains under full Israeli control since 1995.

Palestinian children face the challenge of getting an education in the occupied territories as most of their schools consist only of caravans and playgrounds. Destroying the hope and means of education, and with it the future of Palestinian children and youth, Israel effectively does not allow Palestinians to build schools and other public structures by denying them building permits.

Palestinian schools have long been subjected to Israeli violence. During the 2014 Gaza war, the Israeli army launched a military operation on Gaza, destroying 24 schools. Israeli shelling killed at least 15 Palestinians sheltering in a United Nations-run school and another 17 near a street market. In February 2018, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that at least 45 schools in Palestine were facing the threat of destruction by the Israeli authority. In a released statement, the OCHA acting coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territories, Roberto Valent, pointed out that a Palestinian school in east Jerusalem was destroyed by Israeli soldiers, and added: “The demolition was carried out on the grounds of lack of Israeli-issued permits, which are nearly impossible to obtain.”

Israel has already demolished more than 500 structures in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip this year, OCHA said late September. In a statement, the U.N. office said 506 buildings were razed by Israeli forces in the West Bank on the pretext of lacking a building permit.

According to the statement, a total of 134 structures were demolished in east Jerusalem. OCHA said Israeli forces brought down 22 buildings over the past four weeks, causing the displacement of 50 Palestinians and causing harm to around 200 others According to the U.N. office, eight demolitions out of 12 in east Jerusalem were carried out by the owners themselves to avoid fines and fees imposed by the Israeli authorities.

Turning to the international community to halt Israeli demolition, Palestinians have long argued that the Israeli government uses the issue of security as an excuse to force them further from the city and to expand settlement projects in the occupied territories.

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