For years the Israeli government has tried to destroy Khan al-Ahmar’s eco-friendly school, along with the rest of the tiny West Bank hamlet. So the Palestinian Authority cut short the summer break and started the school year early. The students didn’t seem to mind.
By Oren Ziv
Dozens of schoolchildren welcomed the new school year in the West Bank hamlet of Khan al-Ahmar Monday morning, a month and a half before it officially starts, in an attempt to stop the impending demolition of the entire village.
Ever since Israel announced its intention to destroy Khan al-Ahmar and evict its residents, the village’s eco-school, which was built out of tires and mud with funding from an Italian NGO, has become the focal point of the demolition. After the High Court of Justice issued an injunction against the demolition last week, the state asked the court to exclude the school from its ruling, so it could demolish it and prevent the school year from starting early.
The Palestinian school year is officially set to begin on September 1st. The Palestinian Authority, however, had hoped to push back the start date, making it increasingly difficult for Israel to justify demolishing the school while the school year was already in session. Both sides understand the power of the school, which has turned Khan al-Ahmar into such a pressing political and diplomatic issue.
The impending destruction and displacement of Khan al-Ahmar, one of dozen Bedouin villages located in the E1 area between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim, has been called a war crime by rights groups like B’Tselem and condemned by various foreign governments. In the past, pressure by American and European diplomats succeeding in staving off demolitions that seemed imminent. Ever since Israeli High Court gave its go-ahead for the village’s destruction in late May, Khan al-Ahmar has become a site of frenzied activity, including protests, press conferences, and Israeli and international activists and journalists driving up and down the unpaved road that leads to the village.
On Sunday, right-wing Israeli NGO Regavim petitioned the High Court, demanding it intervene and prevent the first day of school from proceeding as planned. The court refused to issue an injunction, instead ruling that Regavim’s petition will be combined with that of the village against the demolition, both of which will be discussed in a hearing set for mid-August.
“Today we declared the opening of the school year in order to stop the attempt by the occupation forces to demolish the school,” said Palestinian Education Minister Dr. Sabri Sidam,...Read More