'Terrorising' settlers open fire near West Bank primary school

'Terrorising' settlers open fire near West Bank primary school
3 min read
04 June, 2018
Settlers shot in the air to intimidate labourers and halt building work at the Tahadi 5 school in the troubled Jub al-Dib village near Bethlehem.
Settlers act with impunity in the West Bank often under protection of Israeli forces [Twitter]
A group of settlers fired live bullets near a West Bank primary school early on Monday morning, the latest in a series of violent incidents to hit the village of Jub al-Dib in the past year.

The group of five settlers gathered around the school while labourers were reportedly working on a new road to improve access to the Tahadi 5 school, located in the deprived and remote village of Jub al-Dib, near Bethlehem, according to WAFA news agency.

The settlers, furious with the construction work, began shooting in the air to scare off the labourers and disrupt the building project, according to Hassan Barijieh, a representative from the Settlement and Wall Resistance Commission.

Barijieh described the settlers' actions as "bullying" in order to terrorise and intimidate the locals. The settlers are particularly opposed to the school, which has suffered multiple demolitions by the occupying Israeli forces.

Last August, the school's pupils were left to study outside in intense heat after Israeli forces demolished their recently built EU-funded school just hours before the start of the new academic year. Children were subsequently taught in tents before locals re-established the school in makeshift buildings.

The same month, Israeli authorities prevented vital solar panels donated by the Netherlands from operating in the village which for decades remained underdeveloped due to restrictions on building and infrastructure.

Jub al-Dib's problems stem from being located in Area C of the West Bank, meaning it is under both Israeli security and civil control. This means that Israeli authorities wield near-exclusive control over planning and infrastructure, and routinely deny Palestinian building permits and issue demolition orders for homes, schools, agriculture and other infrastructure and property.

Read more: Israel is waging war on Palestinian education and schoolchildren

Most of Area C, which constitutes 61 percent of West Bank land, is being put to use for the benefit of settlers and the Israeli military, while Palestinian locals live under constant threat of their homes being demolished, encouraging them to leave these areas.

On top of this, between January 2016 and 30 April 2018, authorities demolished 516 non-residential structures, such as roads, storerooms, farming buildings, businesses and public buildings, in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem), according to a recent Btselem report.

Settler violence has also become a daily reality for many Palestinians, subject to intimidation, vanadalism and physical assault from Israelis who act mostly with impunity and carry rifles, whereas their Palestinian neighbours may not carry arms to defend themselves.