Last week at 5 PM on Monday, October 25, 2021, Israeli occupation soldiers raided the school in Khirbet Al-Maleh and demolished two newly constructed rooms. Khirbet Al-Maleh is a small Palestinian community in the northern Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank.
“The demolition of the two rooms was a shock to us all in the community,” said Mahdi Daraghmah, the mayor of Khirbet Al-Maleh. “The children insisted that their parents go and see what happened to their school right after the demolition took place. They were so sad.”
The Al-Maleh school was built at the end of 2020 as part of the Right to Education Campaign launched by Palestinian popular committees and civil society organizations. The small school has only six classrooms, filled with students from Khirbet Al-Maleh and the neighboring communities of Ein Al-Helweh and Al-Farsiya.
To increase the capacity of the school, in September 2021 the Stop the Wall Campaign, with the support of the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA), started construction of the a new classroom and school clinic that Israeli bulldozers razed last Monday.
The four remaining classrooms and four other schools located in Bedouin communities in the Jordan Valley—Ras Al-Auja, Khan Al-Ahmar, Fasayil Al-Fawqa and Arab Al-Ka’abneh—have also received several demolition orders and face imminent destruction.
“Since the school was built in our community, the academic performance of the students has improved,” Darraghmah explained. “This school is tremendously important for the existence and the steadfastness of the residents here.”
The Israeli occupation has a long and violent history of destroying schools and kindergartens serving Palestinian Bedouin communities throughout the Jordan Valley. These include the kindergarten in Khirbet Makhoul (2013), the school in Khirbet Samra (2012), and the school in Ras Al-Tin (2020). As of 2019, the Israeli occupation had given more than 42 schools in Area C orders to be partially or totally demolished. (Created by the Oslo Accords, Area C, which comprises 60 percent of the West Bank, is under complete Israeli control. Currently, an estimated 300,00 Palestinians and 400,000 Israeli settlers live there. In addition to withholding the right to education, Israel denies Palestinians in Area C adequate water, healthcare, and other basic human rights).
Denying Palestinians their human right of education in the Jordan Valley and other parts of Area C aims to displace Palestinians in violation of International Law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention and the UN Apartheid Convention (1973). It is part of Israel’s strategy to transform decades of de facto annexation into a de jure status.
“The demolition of schools to deprive students of education is a tool used by Israel to ethnically cleanse the Jordan Valley and take over their land,” said Jamal Juma’, coordinator of Stop the Wall. “This crime is committed by an apartheid and colonial system like Israel’s. The silence of the international community, which gives Israel impunity to violate Palestinian human rights is the other crime committed against our people.”
“By destroying schools and classrooms, the Israelis are attacking Palestine’s new generation,” said Zeiad Abbas Shamrouch, executive director of the Middle East Children’s Alliance. “Since 1948, the Israelis have raided Palestinian schools, arresting students and teachers, and destroying classrooms. When I was a child in Dheisheh Refugee Camp, they even used my school as a torture and interrogation center. This is the time for the international community that cares about education and human rights to stand up for Palestinian children.”
Palestine Press contact: US Press contact
Manal Shqair Zeiad Abbas Shamrouch
Stop the Wall Campaign Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA)
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