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Protesters organize sit-in at Khan al-Ahmar school slated for demolition

Feb. 23, 2017 10:14 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 27, 2017 7:46 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Palestinian Ministry of Education organized a sit-in protest inside a school in the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, against the impending Israeli government order to demolish the school and the entire village.

Protesters condemned the Israeli order to demolish Khan al-Ahmar school -- which serves 150 female and male students -- and expressed their anger towards the Israeli army for targeting a school for children and for “trying to ban them from their right of education.”

Minister of Education Sabri Saidam called upon all Palestinians “to resist and face the Israeli plans and violations against education and Bedouin societies that reveal the ugly face of occupation,” adding that the ministry would “conduct all possible efforts to stop Israeli practices and expose them in media and courts.”

Days earlier, Israeli authorities delivered demolition notices to each of the village's 40 homes and the elementary school, as well as stop-work orders targeting various structures in the village, which is located in Area C -- the more than 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli control and the site of frequent Israeli demolitions.

Locals told Ma’an at the time that Israeli forces imposed a military closure on the area before delivering the demolition warrants, as faculty and students of the school were prevented from accessing the building.

Despite the fact that the community, and the school in particular, has been threatened with demolition by the Israeli government for years, locals said the issuing of demolition warrants to every single house was an unprecedented blow.

UN officials visited the Bedouin community on Wednesday and called the situation “unacceptable.”

“Khan al-Ahmar is one of the most vulnerable communities in the West Bank, struggling to maintain a minimum standard of living in the face of intense pressure from the Israeli authorities to move to a planned relocation site,” Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and UN Development Activities for the occupied Palestinian territory Robert Piper said in a statement, adding that “this is unacceptable and it must stop.”

Khan al-Ahmar, like other Bedouin communities in the region, is under threat of relocation by Israel for being located in the contentious “E1 corridor” set up by the Israeli government to link annexed East Jerusalem with the mega settlement of Maale Adumim.

Israeli authorities plan to build thousands of homes for Jewish-only settlements in E1, which would effectively divide the West Bank and make the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state -- as envisaged by the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict -- almost impossible.

Rights groups and Bedouin community members have sharply criticized Israel's relocation plans for the Bedouin residing near the illegal Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, claiming that the removal would displace indigenous Palestinians for the sake of expanding Israeli settlements across the occupied West Bank in violation of international law.

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