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European Union condemns Israel over demolition of Palestinian Bedouin classrooms

Feb. 7, 2018 10:48 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 8, 2018 11:16 A.M.)
A Palestinian bedouin woman stands next to her destroyed tent in the village of Atouf in the Jordan Valley (AFP, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The European Union Missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah released a statement on Tuesday expressing their concern over Israel’s demolition of two EU-funded classrooms in the Palestinian Bedouin village of Abu Nuwwar.

Israeli forces destroyed the classrooms, which served schoolchildren in the third and fourth grades, on Sunday, affecting the education of more than 25 students.

The EU Representative and the EU Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah said in their statement that “every child has the right to 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 missions called on the Israeli authorities to rebuild the school structures in the same place where they stood prior to demolition.

The EU also called upon the 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.”

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah also condemned the demolitions, saying "denying Palestinian children their right to education, not to mention other fundamental rights, is a deliberate policy of the Israeli authorities to pressure Palestinian communities to leave, in order to confiscate their land and build additional settlements.”

Abu Nuwwar, like other Bedouin communities in the region, is under threat of forcible transfer 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.

In August 2017, Israeli authorities seized solar panels that powered an elementary and preschool in Abu Nuwwar despite a petition against the seizure having been filed to the Israeli Supreme court, which issued a restraining order against the confiscation an hour after the panels were taken.

Israel has come under repeated international condemnation over demolitions of EU-funded structures, with some accusing the Israeli government of demolishing Palestinian structures in retaliation for the EU’s decision in November to enforce labeling laws that would indicate if a product was produced in one of Israel’s 196 illegal settlements.

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