JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities closed a Palestinian elementary school for boys in the town of Sur Bahir in occupied East Jerusalem district on Thursday over alleged “incitement.”
Head of the school Luay Jamal Bkirat told Ma’an that Israeli intelligence officials summoned him and the school’s financial manager Nasser Hamid for interrogation at an Israeli police station, where they were then told, to their surprise, that Israeli police would be shutting down the school over “incitement in the schools’ materials.”
Bkirat denied the claims, saying that the al-Nukhba school was “teaching the Palestinian curriculum used in all schools in Jerusalem and that no one of the faculty has ever been summoned for interrogation before over incitement.”
He added that the school -- which serves 250 boys from kindergarten to grade six -- was opened last year and gained a temporary operating license from the Jerusalem municipality, and that the license was revoked in November for unknown reasons.
Bkirat condemned the decision and said that he would “conduct procedures to stop this decision which aims to destroy education.”
An Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.
The Times of Israel reported
that the school was shut down for being a “Hamas front,” after “a months-long joint probe by the Education Ministry, Jerusalem Police and the Shin Bet [internal security agency].”
Israeli authorities from the Education Ministry claimed the school was established by Hamas with the aim of teaching “content that undermines the sovereignty of Israel,” and that the school’s aims were “consistent with the ideology of the terror organization, which calls for the destruction of Israel,” the Times of Israel said.
The news website added that Israel’s Education Ministry ordered the school not to open in September “and when it continued to operate, issued the closure order.”
“The school’s administration had sued to have the decision overturned, but the case was rejected by the Jerusalem District Court and upheld by the Supreme Court, citing the school’s failure to obtain a license as one of the reasons for siding with the ministry.”
As the Times of Israel pointed out, Israeli Jews and Palestinians study in separate school systems in occupied East Jerusalem, with the Palestinian schools run by either the city council or private entities.
Though Sur Bahir lies beyond the periphery of occupied East Jerusalem, the town remained under the control of Israel’s Jerusalem municipality, according to NGO Grassroots Jerusalem.
According to a 2016 repor
t from Israeli daily Haaretz, Palestinian schools in occupied East Jerusalem received less than half the funds that the Jerusalem municipality transferred to West Jerusalem Jewish schools.