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Palestinians reportedly thwart settler attack on newly rebuilt school

Sept. 11, 2017 10:39 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 11, 2017 10:39 P.M.)
The inauguration of the school in Jubbet al-Dhib on Sunday, Sept. 10 (MaanImages)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Local Palestinians in the village of Jubbet al-Dhib reportedly drove away Israeli settlers threatening to attack a school in the remote village, located east of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank, days after the school was rebuilt following its demolition at the hands of Israeli authorities.

Palestinian Authority-owned Wafa news agency reported Monday that more than 30 Israel settlers approached the school "with an intention to harm the students," but locals pushed them back, according to Hassan Breijiyeh, from the Committee Against Settlements in Bethlehem.

Israeli forces seized mobile classrooms in the isolated village last month, the day before the first day of school. Activists and employees from the Palestinian education ministry rebuilt five classrooms overnight Friday.

Israeli forces then stormed the village Saturday evening, surrounded the construction site, and attacked activists with tear gas, stun grenades, and bullets, sparking fears that Israeli authorities would destroy the school once again. However, Israeli forces only confiscated a work vehicle as a result of the raid.

According to Wafa, Palestinians were able to obtain a court order preventing Israeli authorities from demolishing the new school, at least temporarily.

The Israeli demolition of the school has prompted strong international condemnation. The European Union slammed Israeli forces for dismantling the school, saying that “Every child has the right to safe access to education and States have an obligation to protect, respect and fulfill this right, by ensuring that schools are inviolable safe spaces for children.”

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) also released a statement at the time, describing the confiscation as part of Israel’s "wider attack on education in Palestine."

Israel’s targeting of the school came after after Israeli authorities also confiscated solar panels that powered a school in the Bedouin village of Abu Nuwar and demolished a kindergarten in the Bedouin community of Jabal al-Baba leading up to the beginning of the new school year.

Each of the schools are located in Area C -- the more than 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli military control.

In July, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) stated that Israeli restrictions in Area C had made it “virtually impossible” for Palestinians to obtain building permits there, unlike Israeli settlers, who were often granted building permits.

According to OCHA, as a result of such Israeli policies, more than a third of Palestinian communities in Area C lack primary schools, forcing children to travel long distances to obtain an education.

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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