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Stranded in Shuhada: Hebron's Qurtuba school
Published Friday 15/02/2013 (updated) 02/03/2013 16:40
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Vandals scrawled racist graffiti on a mural on Qurtuba school, in the
West Bank city of Hebron. (MaanImages/Salam Muharam)

HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Children and teachers at Qurtuba school in Hebron say getting to class past Israeli soldiers and settlers is like navigating a minefield every day.

The school, for children aged 7 to 16, is adjacent to the illegal Jewish settlement of Beit Hadassah in the center of the West Bank city.

Israeli forces fenced off the school's stairs with barbed wire in 2002. Now the only route to the school is a muddy path up a steep hill.

Some pupils live beside the school, but have to walk two kilometers around a circuit to reach the entrance, Najah Abu Munshar, a teacher in the school told Ma'an.

Across the street from the school, "Gas the Arabs" has been scrawled on a door. Next to the school gates, a mural of a girl holding a book, painted by a French activist, has been covered by racist graffiti. A gallery in a school corridor shows photos of Israeli soldiers and settlers assaulting students.

International volunteers escort children to and from school as a protective measure, but pupils and teachers are still frequently harassed and assaulted on their way to the school, which has been vandalized and set on fire.

"School students start their day by crossing the checkpoint of Shuhada street. I can only describe daily life at Qurtuba school as suffering and struggle," school principal Noura Nasser told Ma'an.

Teachers must also pass an Israeli checkpoint and metal detectors to get to work, and Israeli soldiers decide whether to let them pass each day.

Pupil Yasmeen Ghareb, 12, says settlers have assaulted her and her siblings. "Sometimes they say bad words to me, and sometimes they throw fluids at me on my way to school."
Yasmeen Ghareb stands in front of a checkpoint on her way to school
(MaanImages/Salam Muharam)
Other students told Ma'an that settlers have attacked them with stones, water and rotten vegetables.

Najah Abu Munshar has taught at Qurtaba school for 15 years. "The settlers used to let their dogs attack the students, and when settlers attack a student, I try my best to calm him or her down, and if he or she has any wounds, I provide first aid," she told Ma'an.

The Ministry of Education hired a psychological counselor for the school, to work with children suffering psychological trauma which often manifests as bed wetting, Nasser, the school principal, told Ma'an. "The school focuses on the extracurricular activities and days of joy."

Nasser said settler attacks were usually heightened during periods of political instability.

A grid of walls, fences and checkpoints divides Jewish settlers and Palestinians who live in close proximity to each other in Hebron, which was divided into two sections in the 1997 Hebron Agreement.

The Palestinian Authority controls the larger area, while Israeli forces control the city center, including the old market, the Ibrahimi Mosque and the historic Old City.

Qurtaba school lies on Shuhada street, a once-bustling thoroughfare and now a shuttered ghost town, with a military checkpoint restricting Palestinians' access to this part of the city.

Israel started restricting access to Shuhada street after an Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein broke into the Ibrahimi Mosque and shot dead 29 Palestinians.

During the second intifada, Israel closed the street to traffic and many traders were not even able to collect their goods before their shops were welded shut.

Palestinian families who remained on Shuhada street must climb through side doors and across rooftops to get to their homes.

Waed Zeidan al-Sharabati, a 9-year-old pupil at Qurtuba school who lives on Shuhada street, recounted to Ma'an how settlers assaulted her and her cousin in 2011 when they were harvesting almonds nearby.

"They threw stones on us... The settler kidnapped my cousin, and I called the neighbor to come check the situation. My neighbor talked to the settlers, and after a long argument, my cousin was returned. One settler threw a stone on my leg. They tried to take me another time, but I escaped to my neighbor's wife, and she hid my inside her home, and closed the door."

"I got used to it, and at the beginning I used to be scared, but now I am not scared of them," she told Ma'an.
Ward al-Sharabati, 9, lives on Shuhada street, a hub of settler violence
in the West Bank (MaanImages/Salam Muharam)
1 ) Mel / USA
15/02/2013 15:54
President Obama? What do you say about this barbaric,apartheid,racist,bigotted behavior coming from OUR patronees,the Israeli's,as they insult these beautiful BRAVE,honorable Palestinian children? When U opine in our SOTU assembly,about the lives of all children being sacred &must be protected,how does that stand for Palestinian children against "unconscionable",filthy Nazi Zionists in the Occ./Terr?Do they deserve a DWM too? Degel Shachor Israel!No tohar haneshek in U!Just'chosen'VIOLENCE!!

2 ) ian / australia
16/02/2013 04:34
What kind of evil, brain-dead, zombified cult members would want to make children's lives miserable by defacing their mural, fencing off their school making them walk through mud to get to it, assaulting them with stones, rotten vegetables and "fluids", letting their dogs attack them and writing "Gas the Arabs" outside the school? Give up? Hebron settlers. That's why Hebron settlers really are the settlers' settlers.

3 ) gabi / australia
17/02/2013 00:50
this is bloody disgusting.

4 ) Markus / Bulgaria
17/02/2013 12:41
They do it because they want the Arabs to leave the Jewish lands.

5 ) Palestinian / Palestine
17/02/2013 15:36
Nr 4, Markus, jewish lands? Read a book. I recall this land being ours since the dawn of time and continously throughout history. Jews were here a brief period in history, we on the other hand have been here cultivating and nourishing the land for thousands upon thousands of years. So i beg to correct your insanity with a dose of reality. Palestine prosper!

6 ) Mel / USA
17/02/2013 19:17
#5:Bravo! Well said! Jews have historically always been in Palestine,but AS A MINORITY only,& most lived side by side,peacefully with the Arab majority even through Ottoman/British Mandate!Until ZIONISM arrived from Eurasia.And,despite the Zionist"Plan"of total"conquest"by Jewish colonization of Palestine,incld.total expulsion of non-Jews,since 1880's,1920's,1940's to today,the PALESTINIAN people are STILL THERE resisting NaZionist persecution & PROUDLY LOVIING/NURTURING their Palestine! ENCORE!

7 ) The / World
24/02/2013 05:01
Why are Jews so cruel ?.

8 ) BDS / Canada
28/02/2013 18:34
Would g*d really "choose" these inhumane squatters? Must be self designated!

9 ) I / Wonder
01/03/2013 00:42
Why are jews so anti-semetic ?.

10 ) Robert / US
04/03/2013 19:36
Ward al-Sharabati the picture of her is great.. Smiling,strong and determined.. I pray for you and all the other kids and the school.
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