Israel demolishes another EU-funded school

Israeli occupation forces demolished two school buildings in the Abu Nuwwar community on 4 February, located in the so-called E1 area of the occupied West Bank, east of Jerusalem.

The destruction leaves more than 25 children in the third and fourth grades without a place to learn.

“The demolition of educational buildings is one of the means Israel uses in its attempt to expel Palestinian communities from their homes, so that it can concentrate the residents in enclaves and use the territory for its own needs,” the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem stated.

On 13 December occupation forces posted a destruction order in the fourth grade classroom, according to B’Tselem, and the demolition proceeded Sunday despite the fact that a legal case over the order was ongoing.

Photos posted on Twitter by Palestinian media show children sitting amid the rubble of their demolished school.

One of them holds a sign that says, “I have the right to learn. No to demolishing my school. We are the children of Abu Nuwwar.”

A witness in the video says that Israeli occupation forces confiscated mobile phones before the demolition.

EU complicity

The school was built with funding from the European Union and the Palestinian Authority in September, but neither have done anything to hold Israel accountable for the destruction of the classrooms.

This is in keeping with the EU’s inaction over the tens of millions of dollars of projects it has funded that Israel has destroyed in recent years.

The EU made no statement condemning the demolition.

This is the fifth time Israel has demolished that school. It has been rebuilt every time with the help of funds from the EU and nongovernmental organizations, according to Reuters.

The bureaucratic arm of Israel’s military occupation, COGAT, stated that “the building was built illegally and without the necessary permits.”

Israel refuses to permit virtually any Palestinian construction in Area C, where Abu Nuwwar is located, forcing many to build without military permission and to live in constant fear that their homes will be demolished.

In addition to buildings, Israel also prevents Palestinians in Abu Nuwwar from building roads that “would allow a school bus to access the community and safely bring the children to and from school,” according to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

Area C comprises approximately 60 percent of the West Bank and remains under complete Israeli military rule under the terms of the Oslo accords signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in the early 1990s.

Forced expulsion

Israeli politicians are increasingly calling for the permanent annexation of Area C, which would leave the majority of Palestinians in the West Bank corralled into tiny islands of territory.

The Abu Nuwwar community, like many others in Area C, has faced constant harassment from the Israeli army in an attempt to forcibly expel them.

In October, Israeli forces confiscated the doors of the classrooms they demolished on Sunday.

In August, Israeli forces declared the Abu Nuwwar community a closed military zone and they confiscated solar panels that provided electricity to its kindergarten.

The E1 area is targeted by Israel for expansion of its mega-settlement of Maaleh Adumim, which would complete the encirclement of Jerusalem and isolate the northern and southern parts of the West Bank from each other.

Abu Nuwwar is one of 12 Palestinian communities, with a total of about 1,400 residents, in the area east of Jerusalem which face Israeli expulsion. Others include Jabal al-Baba and Khan al-Ahmar.

Also in August, Israel destroyed two European-funded schools in the West Bank.

The EU’s lack of an effective response then undoubtedly encouraged Israel to proceed with Sunday’s demolition.

Susiya under threat

Meanwhile, France’s consul-general visited the Area C village of Susiya, “to support residents threatened with forced displacement,” according to a tweet from the French consulate in Jerusalem on Monday.

Such symbolic visits are intended to signal international disapproval of Israel’s planned mass demolitions of the community’s homes – a war crime.

But in the past Israel has ignored them, secure in the knowledge that it is never held accountable for war crimes and other violations against Palestinians.

Last week, US Senator Dianne Feinstein tweeted that it was “heartbreaking” that Israel’s high court had “approved the demolition of seven buildings in the Palestinian village of Susiya, destroying the homes of 42 people, half of whom are children or ill.”

In December, Feinstein and nine other senators appealed directly to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to halt the demolitions.




A "Senator Dianne Feinstein" is quoted as lamenting Israel's destruction of Palestinian homes, describing such acts "heartbreaking". Would she by any chance be related to the Senator Dianne Feinstein much of whose career has been framed in service to Israel and who is one of the leading voices in Congress calling for the suppression and criminalization of the BDS movement? Perhaps this article will clarify the question:

Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.