Israel destroys Palestinian school hours before start of year
Israeli security forces arrived at the West Bank village of Jub al-Dib late on Tuesday and destroyed the EU-funded school building, local rights group B'Tselem reported.
The following day, which marked the start of the new school year, at least 80 Palestinian children were forced to study without shelter under the summer sun, the rights group added.
"The demolition of a school building the night before the start of the year epitomises the administrative cruelty and systematic harassment by authorities designed to drive Palestinians from their land," B'Tsleme said in a statement.
The Norwegian Refugee Council [NRC] said the destroyed school included the only nursery available to the local Palestinian community.
|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|
"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, NRC policy manager.
"Just when they were due to return to the classroom, Palestinian children are discovering that their schools are being destroyed," said Hanibal Abiy Worku, NRC country director for Palestine.
"What threat do these schools pose to the Israeli authorities? What are they planning to achieve by denying thousands of children their fundamental right to education?"
"We call on the governments and donors funding Palestinian children's education to exercise all of their influence to prevent this violation in all its forms," Abiy Worku said.
"The destruction of educational structures funded by European money is not just a violation of international law.
"It is also a slap in the face to the international community providing aid to the occupied Palestinian population in a bid to ensure safe places of learning for children."
Forces also confiscated solar panels donated by the Dutch government to help provide electricity to the school building.
The school site was not the first destroyed by Israeli forces this week.
On Monday, around 50 security officers destroyed a trailer in the village of Badu al-Baba, which had been set up three weeks earlier as a nursery to 25 local Palestinian children aged between four and six.
Forces also confiscated the classroom's desks, chairs and blackboard, all of which had been funded by the local community.
Earlier this month, Israeli forces also destroyed a Palestinian school and nursery in Abu a-Nuwar. They also confiscated solar panels donated by the international community to provide electricity to the school.
The Israeli civil administration claims these buildings were in violation as they lacked the required permits.
However, Palestinians are routinely denied construction permits in West Bank's "Area C" – which is under Israeli administrative control – leaving them with little option but to build illegally.
The international community regards Israel's continued presence and construction of settlements inside West Bank as illegal. As a result, the EU had been assisting Palestinians to school their children with humanitarian donations.
At least 55 Palestinian schools in the West Bank are currently under threat of demolition over the lack of permits.