As Palestinians build schools in Area C of West Bank, Israel issues demolition orders against them

BETHLEHEM, The Palestinian government and the European Union (EU) inaugurated today Al Aqban Elementary Mixed School in Al Aqban Village in the Bethlehem district in the south of the West Bank but located in the area designated as C, which is under full Israeli military rule.

At the same time, the Ministry of Education denounced today Israeli plans to demolish another school in Area C also in the south of the West Bank.

It said in a statement that the Israeli military issued a demolition order against Simia Elementary Mixed School built in the Samoa area south of Hebron and attended by 40 students, describing the order as a crime and a violation of all international laws and conventions.

Speaking at the Al Aqban school inauguration ceremony, Minister of Local Government Majdi Al Saleh said the area referred to as C is Palestinian land and an essential part of the Palestinian state without which there will be no stability or peace.

We in the government, when we announced our policy and our stance regarding the areas referred to as C’, this came only in harmony with our national and moral responsibilities towards our people, our land and our commitment to all international conventions and laws. We are committed to preserving our Palestinian land and the right to establish our independent state, he said.

Al-Saleh pointed out that partnership with the European Union and a number of international partners to design programs and interventions to develop these areas has started five years ago. We have completed and implemented so far 59 projects in 45 clusters, he said, adding that this cooperation will continue with more programs and budgets.

He said his ministry will continue to implement development projects in Area C to help its Palestinian residents remain steadfast on their land.

Israel refuses to allow Palestinian development of any kind in Area C, which makes up over 60 percent of the total area of the occupied West Bank, and often demolishes what Palestinians build, often with assistance from international parties, such as the EU, despite the Israeli ban.

Bethlehem Governor Kamel Hmaid said that 17 schools in the Bethlehem district alone suffer from harassment by the Israeli occupation authorities and settlers in flagrant violation of the right to education guaranteed in international and humanitarian laws.

Minister of Education Marwan Awartani said this school is an inspiring model for resistance education, pointing to the difficulties facing the educational process in Area C in Palestine, in terms of the difficulty of access of students and teachers to their schools due to the army barriers and the exposure of a number of schools to complete or partial demolition, as well as the assault by soldiers and settlers on schools and students.

We are in constant confrontation with the occupation, which does not want our people to learn, and despite all the challenges, we have an enlightened generation capable of building its future with the least resources and possibilities, he said.

Acting EU Representative Thomas Nicholson pointed out that Al-Aqban School is one of the largest schools funded by the European Union in the areas named “C” for an amount of 750,000 euros. The school has a total area of 1200 square meters and will serve more than 250 students.

He stressed that the so-called Areas C is a Palestinian land and part of the future Palestinian state and this fact will not change and is guaranteed by international laws, pointing to the right of the Palestinian people to exist on this land despite the occupation and settlements.

Source: Palestinian News and Info Agency