THE ISRAELI military has demolished a European Union-funded Palestinian primary school in the central part of the occupied West Bank as the Tel Aviv regime presses ahead with its land theft policies and settlement expansion on the occupied territories.
The Palestinian Information Centre reported on Thursday that the bulldozers escorted by Israeli forces tore down the school, east of the West Bank city of Ramallah.
The school serves 50 students, from the Bedouin Ras al-Teen community, who otherwise would have to walk around five kilometres to access the school in nearby Al-Mughayyer village.
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) announced on Wednesday that it was deeply concerned about the Israeli military’s planned demolition.
‘These are some of the most vulnerable children, whose life is already extremely hard, and Israel as the occupying power has a duty to ensure that they get their education and basic services,’ said NRC Regional Director Carsten Hansen.
‘Instead, it uses its power to do the opposite, denying them their fundamental right to education and paving the way for illegal settlement expansion.’
The European Union, several of its member states, and the United Kingdom had provided humanitarian funding for the construction of the school.
The school opened at the beginning of the academic year over a month ago, and the Israeli authorities notified the building of demolition under the pretext of building without a licence. However, the Palestinian inhabitants were able to obtain a precautionary order to freeze the demolition for a period of 30 days.
The Israeli military had already confiscated construction materials and tools on four occasions between August 31 and September 10 under the pretext that the structure lacked an Israeli-issued building permit.
According to the Education Cluster, a forum that coordinates the humanitarian education response, Israel has partially or fully demolished three schools in the West Bank so far this year, and 52 other schools are under threat of demolition.
In 2019, the Education Cluster recorded 328 education-related incidents, involving access restrictions, attacks on students and staff, and destruction of education infrastructure.
Since the beginning of this year, the United Nations revealed that the Israeli authorities had demolished 555 facilities in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem al-Quds.
- At least three Palestinians were injured when Israeli occupation forces attacked farmers and volunteering activists joining them in harvesting olives in the village of Burqa, to the east of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, according to local sources.
Minister Walid Assaf, Chairman of the Apartheid Wall and Colonisation Resistance Commission, told WAFA that Israeli soldiers fired rubber-coated rounds, tear gas canisters and stun grenades at the farmers and activists to disperse them, injuring three of them.
Many others also sustained suffocation from tear gas inhalation.
The event was called for by the Commission in response to Israel’s denial of access of Palestinian farmers to their olive-planted farms in the area during the last few days, as well as in response to a series of recent attacks by Israeli settlers on the said area during the last week.
Assaf confirmed that more similar events will be organised in the coming days in an effort to reinforce the resilience of Palestinian farmers in the face of the Israeli attempts to expropriate more Palestinian land for the benefit of the colonial settlement project.
Attacks by Israeli forces and settlers on Palestinian farmers always witness an increase during the annual olive harvest season.
- The Israeli regime routinely demolishes Palestinian houses in the occupied West Bank, claiming that the structures have been built without permits, which are nearly impossible to obtain. They also sometimes order Palestinian owners to demolish their own houses or pay the costs of the demolition if they do not.
The United Nations (UN)’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a recent report that there had been a sharp increase in the number of Palestinian houses being demolished by Israel in the occupied West Bank during the coronavirus pandemic.
- The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, has reiterated its total rejection of agreements signed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain at the White House to normalise diplomatic ties with Israel, denouncing the deals as ‘humiliating’.
‘Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s boast that the Israeli regime had the upper hand while signing the normalisation agreements … underscores how humiliating such deals are,’ Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasem said in a statement released on Thursday.
He added: ‘Such bravado highlights once again that the Israeli occupation is the only beneficiary of normalisation bids.’
The remarks came shortly after Israel’s Knesset (parliament) voted in favour of the normalisation of ties with the UAE and Bahrain. A total of 80 lawmakers voted in favour of the US-brokered agreements, whilst 13 others opposed.
‘This historic agreement … will bring us closer to other countries in the region to sign other peace agreements,’ Netanyahu said.
The Israeli prime minister said the Tel Aviv regime had contact recently with another country in the region for the first time, but did not disclose the name.
Netanyahu signed US-brokered normalisation deals with the Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani during an official ceremony hosted by President Donald Trump at the White House on September 15.
Palestinians, who seek an independent state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital, view the deals as a betrayal of their cause.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas protested at the normalisation deals with Israel, saying they will be fruitless as long as the United States and the Israeli regime do not recognise the rights of the Palestinian nation and refuse to resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees.
- Europe’s main powers last week condemned Israel’s decision to approve thousands of housing units in the illegal settlements of the occupied Palestinian territories, calling it a ‘counterproductive’ move undermining regional peace efforts.
‘The expansion of settlements violates international law and further imperils the viability of a two-state solution to bring about a just and lasting peace to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,’ said a joint statement by the foreign ministers of Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain.
‘As we have emphasised directly with the government of Israel, this step furthermore undermines efforts to rebuild trust between the parties with a view to resuming dialogue,’ they said, urging an immediate halt in settlement construction.’
The foreign ministers said the move was counterproductive in the light of the normalisation agreements reached between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
The agreements have already been condemned by the Palestinians. ‘We therefore call for an immediate halt to settlement construction, as well as to evictions and to demolitions of Palestinian structures in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
‘We call for the full implementation of UN Security Council resolution 2334 with all its provisions. We emphasise that we will not recognise any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regards to Jerusalem, unless agreed to between the parties.
‘The suspension of plans to annex parts of Occupied Palestinian Territories must become permanent.’
- The anti-settlement monitoring group Peace Now says Israeli authorities have given the green light for the construction of more than 12,000 settler units in the occupied West Bank since the start of the current year, setting a record high despite strong international condemnation of the Tel Aviv regime’s land expropriation and settlement expansion policies.
‘These approvals make 2020 the highest year on record in terms of units in settlement plans promoted since Peace Now began recording in 2012,’ the watchdog said in a statement released on Thursday.
Peace Now said the so-called Israeli National Planning Committee approved plans for 4,948 more settlers’ homes during a two-day meeting held on Wednesday and Thursday.
‘The count so far is 12,159 units approved in 2020,’ it added, noting that the committee might hold another round of approvals before the end of the year.
‘These recent approvals put to rest any speculation about a de facto settlement freeze,’ the watchdog pointed out.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov said the latest approvals were of ‘great concern’ to all those who remain committed to settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
‘Settlement construction is illegal under international law and is one of the major obstacles to peace,’ he stated, calling on Israel to immediately cease all settlement-related activities.
The latest approvals came less than a month after the United Arab Emirates and Israel agreed to a US-brokered deal to normalise relations on August 13.
Under the agreement, the Tel Aviv regime has supposedly agreed to ‘temporarily’ suspend applying its own rule to further areas in the West Bank and the strategic Jordan Valley that Netanyahu had pledged to annex.
While Emirati officials have described the normalisation deal with the Tel Aviv regime as a successful means to stave off annexation and save the so-called two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israeli leaders have lined up to reject the bluff of Abu Dhabi’s crown prince and de facto ruler of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, that Israel’s annexation plans were off the table.
Israeli prime minister Netanyahu has underlined that annexation is not off the table, but has simply been delayed.
The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, has also strongly rejected UAE officials’ claim that Israel had stopped settlement annexation following a full normalisation of diplomatic relations with the Persian Gulf state.
Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasem said in a statement on October 1 that the constant expansion of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank has exposed the false claims of the UAE.
Netanyahu signed agreements with Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani during an official ceremony hosted by US President Donald Trump at the White House on September 15.
Palestinians, who seek an independent state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital, view the deals as a betrayal of their cause.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.
Since Trump took office in December 2016, Israel has stepped up its settlement construction activities in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which pronounced settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds ‘a flagrant violation under international law’.
All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law as they are built on occupied land.