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Palestinian children attend class in a tent on 24 August, after Israeli occupation forces dismantled their school in the West Bank village of Jubbet al-Dib, near Bethlehem, two days earlier. [Wisam Hashlamoun/APA images/via Electronic Intifada]

Freshly sharpened pencils, neat rows of desks and chairs—these things come to mind when thinking of children eagerly starting a new school year.

Many Palestinian children, however, faced a very different scene when they returned to school.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) reports that three schools in the West Bank, “have been demolished or damaged by Israeli authorities in less than two weeks, just when children were meant to return to school from summer holidays.”

» Children in the Bedouin community of Jabal Al Baba lost their only kindergarten.

» A primary school was demolished in Jubbet Al Dhib.

» Solar panels that powered a primary school in Abu Nuwar were confiscated.

“It was heart breaking to see children and their teachers turning up for their first day of school under the blazing sun, with no classrooms or anywhere to seek shelter in, while in the immediate vicinity the work to expand illegal settlements goes on uninterrupted,” said Itay Epshtain of NRC, after visiting Jubbet Al Dhib.

The NRC also reports that “some 55 schools in the West Bank are threatened with demolition and ‘stop-work’ orders by Israeli authorities."

Right now, whole communities face similar threats to their homes and property.

According to Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the defense ministry is “preparing for the evacuation of Palestinian communities built without authorization,” and they are planning “to evacuate the Palestinian villages of Sussia in the South Hebron Hills and Khan al-Ahmar near Ma’aleh Adumim within a few months.” 

An Israeli bulldozer demolishes a home in Ras al-Amud, East Jerusalem, September 13, 2017. [B’Tselem/via +972 Magazine]

The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem sent a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu and other Israeli officials calling on them to refrain from these human rights violations and warning that “these actions would constitute a war crime committed at your instruction and under your responsibility, and for which you would bear personal liability.”

Demolitions – and the ongoing threats of demolition – cause untold suffering for Palestinians.

In a couple of clicks, reach your elected officials and ask them to urge the State Department to firmly appeal to the Israeli government to stop demolishing Palestinian schools and homes.  The prepared message also asks legislators to insist that US military aid be based on Israel’s compliance with US law and respect for human rights.


For more information, see:

“Destruction of Property,” UN OCHA oPt.
“Israel demolishes schools for Palestinians” CNN, Aug. 29, 2017
“When the walls of your home come crumbling down,” +972 Blog, Sept. 13, 2017

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United Methodists for Kairos Response (UMKR) is an international grassroots peace movement in the United Methodist Church responding to Palestinian Christians’ urgent call, in Kairos Palestine: A Moment of Truth, for effective action to end the Israeli occupation and achieve a just peace in the Holy Land. UMKR seeks – through nonviolent action and in partnership with our Palestinian sisters and brothers in Christ – freedom, justice and equality for all Palestinians and Israelis.

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