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Israeli forces and settlers surround Palestinian school, detain student, 2 teachers

May 25, 2017 11:05 A.M. (Updated: May 25, 2017 9:06 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli settlers escorted by military forces surrounded a Palestinian school in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem on Thursday morning, detaining a student and two teachers while leaving others trapped inside the school.

Sharif al-Froukh, the deputy headmaster of the al-Minya middle and high school in the village of Tuqu, said an Israeli settler chased students who were on their way to the school for their end-of-year exams, claiming that they had thrown rocks at him.

Al-Froukh added that Israeli forces had detained a fifth grader identified as Mahdi al-Kawazba, and two teachers, identified as Muhammad al-Qurneh and Khalid al-Araysi.

Al-Froukh said that two Israeli settlers’ vehicles and five military jeeps were surrounding the school, and that some teachers were staying at the entrance to prevent the Israelis from raiding the school, while other teachers and staff remained with students inside classrooms.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that they were looking into the reports.

The case marked the second time two days that Israeli forces targeted Palestinian schoolchildren in the Bethlehem area, after at least two Palestinian children were beaten and detained by Israeli forces on Wednesday morning inside the Aida refugee camp.

Earlier this month, Israeli police also assaulted and detained a Palestinian school principal in occupied East Jerusalem when he tried to intervene after the Israeli officers hit a young student with their vehicle.

Many Palestinian activists and rights groups have accused Israel of fostering a “culture of impunity” for Israeli settlers and soldiers committing violent acts against Palestinians.

Israeli media reported last week that an Israeli settler who shot and killed a young Palestinian man on May 18 was not being investigated by Israeli police as a criminal suspect in the case.

In March, Israeli NGO Yesh Din revealed that Israeli authorities served indictments in only 8.2 percent of cases of Israeli settlers committing anti-Palestinian crimes in the occupied West Bank in the past three years.

Palestinian stone-throwers, in stark contrast, face harsh penalties by Israeli authorities, including up to 20 years in prison if charged with throwing stones at vehicles and a minimum prison sentence of three years for throwing a stone at an Israeli.

Between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law, with announcements of settlement expansion earlier this year sparking condemnation from the international community.
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