Palestinian children attend class in the street after Israel shuts down school

Source

Ma’an – February 26, 2017
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Ma’an – February 26, 2017

JERUSALEM – After Israeli authorities shut down a Palestinian elementary school in the occupied East Jerusalem town of Sur Bahir last Thursday over alleged “incitement” in its study materials, students attended class in the street on Sunday and protested against Israel’s decision to close the school.

Children who were enrolled at al-Nukhba (“the elite” in Arabic) arrived to the campus with their parents in an action organized by the parent committees of Sur Bahir’s schools, holding posters expressing support for al-Nukhba and denouncing Israel’s closure of educational institutions as “tyrannical.”

Last Thursday, head of the school Luay Jamal Bkirat and the school’s financial manager Nasser Hamed were summoned to an Israeli police station for interrogation, when Israeli intelligence officials informed them that the school was being shut down for carrying inciting content in the teaching materials used at the school.

Bkirat denied the claims, saying that al-Nukhba school was “teaching the Palestinian curriculum used in all schools in Jerusalem and that no one of the faculty had ever been summoned for interrogation before over incitement.”

He added that the school — which serves 250 boys from kindergarten to grade six — was opened last year and gained a temporary operating license from the Jerusalem municipality, and that the license was revoked in November for unknown reasons.

Bkirat condemned the decision and said that he would “conduct procedures to stop this decision which aims to destroy education.”

The Times of Israel reported that the school was shut down for being a “Hamas front,” after a months-long joint probe by Israel’s Education Ministry, Jerusalem police, and Israeli intelligence, the Shin Bet.

Israeli authorities from the education ministry claimed the school was established by Hamas with the aim of teaching “content that undermines the sovereignty of Israel,” and that the school’s aims were “consistent with the ideology of the terror organization, which calls for the destruction of Israel,” the Times of Israel said.

According to the Israeli news outlet, the ministry ordered the school not to open in September “and when it continued to operate, issued the closure order.”

Israeli Jews and Palestinians study in separate school systems in occupied East Jerusalem, with the Palestinian schools run by either Israel’s Jerusalem municipality, the Islamic Waqf and administered by the Palestinian Ministry of Education, private institutions, or UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Education, Palestinian children suffer from routine Israeli interference and political pressure to replace Palestinian curricula with an Israeli one in occupied East Jerusalem, where full Israeli military and civil control deprives students from proper and secure educational services.

A 2016 report by Israeli daily Haaretz also said that Palestinian schools in occupied East Jerusalem received less than half the funds that the Jerusalem municipality transferred to Jewish schools in West Jerusalem.

Though Sur Bahir lies beyond the periphery of occupied East Jerusalem, the town remained under full Israeli security and civil control within Israel’s Jerusalem municipality after the territory was illegally annexed in 1967.

A 2011 report by the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ) said that due to a lack of some levels of education in Sur Bahir, many students were forced to attend schools in neighboring villages.

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