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Israeli forces demolish donor-funded Palestinian elementary school in central West Bank

This file picture shows a view from a tent school built after Israeli forces demolished the Isfi Primary School, allegedly for being unauthorized, in the occupied southern West Bank city of al-Khalil. (Photo by Anadolu news agency)

Israeli military forces have demolished a donor-funded Palestinian primary school in the central part of the occupied West Bank, in a flagrant violation of Palestinian children’s right to education.

Witnesses and local officials said the Israeli army raided Beit Ta’mir village, located six kilometers (3.7 miles) southeast of Bethlehem, on Sunday morning and demolished Challenge 5 School.

They said dozens of Israeli soldiers cordoned off the area around the school, and a bulldozer flattened it shortly afterward.

The school, which was built of makeshift materials, was attended by 66 Palestinian students. It was demolished in 2017 before it was rebuilt in the same year.

The Palestinian Ministry of Education stated that the demolition was “a heinous crime.”

“These practices fall within the framework of the occupying regime’s ongoing crimes against the Palestinian educational sector, targeting students, teachers and educational institutions in complete disregard of international conventions and principles,” it said in a statement.

“International organizations and human rights institutions are required to assume their responsibilities regarding the escalating Israeli violations of the occupation, highlight them in all significant events and conferences, and provide protection for our students and educational staff in light of such Israeli acts of aggression,” the ministry said.

It also urged relevant international bodies to secure Palestinian children’s right to education.

Last March, an Israeli court issued a verdict ordering the demolition of the school after it rejected a petition filed against the measure.

Clashes reportedly took place between local residents and Israeli soldiers in the vicinity of the school. Several citizens suffered tear gas inhalation during confrontations.

Also on Sunday, Israeli forces demolished several other Palestinian-owned structures, including two homes under construction in the eastern West Bank town of al-Auja, a guest house in al-Jiftlik village as well as a car wash workshop in the village of Ferdis.

Earlier this year, the Arab Campaign for Education for All (ACEA) warned that Israeli forces had delivered demolition orders to 58 schools in the occupied West Bank, including East al-Quds.

“Israeli authorities have issued six demolition or stop-building orders targeting six Palestinian schools during the past year [2022], in addition to demolition notices targeting 58 schools in the West Bank, including al-Quds, which serve more than 6,500 Palestinian students and provide jobs to more than 700 educational staff,” ACEA said in a statement.

The statement warned that the violations affect children, teachers and school buildings, highlighting the need that concerned institutions and the relevant United Nations agencies to assume their role and responsibilities in pressuring the Israeli regime to stop the policy of demolishing schools.

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