Video: The struggle for Masafer Yatta

The Israeli government may demolish a school donated to a small Palestinian community, leaving more than 20 children without education.

Israel’s Civil Administration – the bureaucratic arm of its military occupation – issued an order to demolish the school last November.

Before the school was built last year, children had to travel to nearby communities to receive an education. The trip was long and dangerous as they passed several Israeli settlements and a military “firing zone.”

Settlers constantly harass the children while they walk to school.

Because of this, in 2004, the Israeli government ordered military escorts for Palestinian students making the trip to and from school twice a day.

That policy continues until today.

But sometimes, the Israeli soldiers do not show up, or they arrive late, making the children’s access to school unreliable.

Residents like Ali Awwad have volunteered to ensure that the children can reach school safely.

Ali and these schoolchildren are from Masafer Yatta, also known as the South Hebron Hills.

It is a region in the southern occupied West Bank that is under threat of being completely taken over by the Israeli army, which seeks to destroy several villages and expel Palestinian residents.

Masafer Yatta is in Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank that remains under full Israeli military control and includes Israel’s largest settlement colonies.

In the 1980s, Israel declared the area a military firing zone as a pretext for seizing Palestinian land and handing it to Israeli settlers.

Since then, Israel has been attempting to force Palestinians off the land, claiming they are living “illegally” in a firing zone.

However, Palestinians have lived in the area long before the establishment of Israel and its military.

For more than two decades, the residents of Masafer Yatta have used the courts to try to fight Israel’s land confiscation.

In May 2022, Israel’s high court denied the Palestinians’ appeals, giving the army the green light to demolish at least eight villages, including four schools.

Additionally, the court allowed the military to forcibly remove nearly 1,200 residents from their land, a move that rights groups say would amount to a war crime under international law.

In January 2023, Israeli authorities informed the residents that they intend to expedite their forcible transfer. Even still, the residents say they have no intention of leaving.

Video by Palestine Productions.