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EU condemns Israeli confiscations of Palestinian school structures in West Bank

Aug. 24, 2017 7:11 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 24, 2017 8:35 P.M.)
Ruins of an outhouse donated by the EU 23 March 2016. (B'Tselem/Abdulkarim Sadi, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The European Union Representative and the EU Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah issued a statement on Thursday expressing “strong concern” over the recent Israeli confiscations of Palestinian school structures in the occupied West Bank.

The statement referred to the confiscation of solar panels that powered a school in the Bedouin village of Abu Nuwar in the Jerusalem district, the demolition of a kindergarten in the Bedouin community of Jabal al-Baba in the outskirts of al-Eizariya, and most recently, the Tuesday evening confiscation of a school in the remote village of Jubbet al-Dhib in the Bethlehem district.

“Every child has the right to safe access to education and States have an obligation to protect, respect and fulfil this right, by ensuring that schools are inviolable safe spaces for children,” the statement said.

The EU called upon Israeli authorities to halt demolitions and confiscations of Palestinian houses and property “in accordance with its obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law, and to cease the policy of settlement construction and expansion, of designating land for exclusive Israeli use and of denying Palestinian development.”

The EU missions also called on the Israeli government to return the confiscated equipment and structures.

Following the confiscation of the school in Jubbet al-Dhib on Tuesday, the Norwegian Refugee Council released a statement condemning Israel for the confiscation as part of "a wider attack on education in Palestine."

NRC Policy Manager Itay Epshtain, who visited Jubbet al-Dhib, was quoted in the statement as saying, “It was heartbreaking to see children and their teachers turning up for their first day of school under the blazing sun, with no classrooms or anywhere to seek shelter in, while in the immediate vicinity the work to expand illegal settlements goes on uninterrupted.”

According to NRC, some 55 schools in the occupied West Bank are threatened with demolition and stop-work orders by Israeli authorities, many of them built with funding from the European Union states and other donors.

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