AFTER Israeli authorities shut down a Palestinian elementary school in the occupied East Jerusalem town of Sur Bahir last Thursday over alleged ‘incitement’ in its study materials, students attended class in the street yesterday and protested against Israel’s decision to close the school.
Children who were enrolled at al-Nukhba arrived to the campus with their parents in an action organised by the parents’ committees of Sur Bahir’s schools, raising posters expressing support for al-Nukhba and denouncing Israel’s closure of educational institutions as ‘tyrannical’.
Last Thursday, the head of the school Luay Jamal Bkirat and the school’s financial manager Nasser Hamed were summoned to an Israeli police station for interrogation, when Israeli intelligence officials informed them the school was being shut down for ‘inciting content’ in the teaching materials used at the school.
Bkirat denied the claims, saying that the al-Nukhba school ‘is teaching the Palestinian curriculum used in all schools in Jerusalem and that no one of the faculty has ever been summoned for interrogation before over incitement’.
He added that the school – which serves 250 boys from kindergarten to grade six – was opened last year and gained a temporary operating licence from the Jerusalem municipality, and that the licence was revoked in November for unknown reasons.
Bkirat condemned the decision and said that he ‘will conduct procedures to stop this decision which aims to destroy education’. The Times of Israel reported that the school was shut down for being a ‘Hamas front,’ after a month’s long joint probe by Israel’s Education Ministry, Jerusalem police, and Israeli intelligence, the Shin Bet.
Israeli authorities from the education ministry claimed the school was established by Hamas with the aim of teaching ‘content that undermines the sovereignty of Israel’, and that the school’s aims were ‘consistent with the ideology of the terror organisation, which calls for the destruction of Israel,’ the Times of Israel said.
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Education, Palestinian children suffer from routine Israeli interference and political pressure to replace Palestinian curricula with an Israeli one in occupied East Jerusalem, where full Israeli military and civil control deprives students of proper and secure educational services.
A 2016 report by Israeli daily Haaretz also said that Palestinian schools in occupied East Jerusalem received less than half the funds that the Jerusalem Municipality transferred to Jewish schools in West Jerusalem. Though Sur Bahir lies beyond the periphery of occupied East Jerusalem, the town remained under full Israeli security and civil control within Israel’s Jerusalem municipality after the territory was illegally annexed.