Israeli forces demolish school in Bedouin community
Israeli forces on Feb. 21 demolished a Bedouin school for children in the Abu al-Nuwaar community near the town of al-Eizariya in the occupied West Bank, a spokesperson for the al-Jahalin Bedouin community said. Atallah al-Jahalin told Ma'an News Agency that Israeli forces, accompanied by 30 vehicles and a delegation from Israeli's Civil Administration, raided the area and destroyed the sole school in the community. Residents said Israeli forces told them the school was demolished because concrete structures were forbidden in the area. The Israeli forces also reportedly seized the contents of the school. Al-Jahalin added that Israeli forces briefly detained two youths who were protesting the demolition, both of whom were released after the demolition. After the demolition, primary students held a "sit-in" where the school once stood while wearing their uniforms and holding school books in protest.
On Feb. 17, the Coordinator for Humanitarian and UN Development Activities for the occupied Palestinian territory Robert Piper said the number of Palestinians displaced so far in 2016 is already equivalent to over half of the total number displaced in all of 2015. Piper called on Israel to immediately halt all demolitions in the occupied West Bank, which he said were in violation of international law. "Most of the demolitions in the West Bank take place on the spurious legal grounds that Palestinians do not possess building permits," Piper said. "But, in Area C, official Israeli figures indicate only 1.5 percent of Palestinian permit applications are approved in any case. So what legal options are left for a law-abiding Palestinian?"
The UN documented 283 homes and other structures destroyed, dismantled, or confiscated between Jan. 1 and Feb. 15. The measures displaced 404 Palestinians, including 219 children. Another 1,150 Palestinians were also affected after losing structures related to their source of income, according to the UN. The destruction was focused in 41 locations, many in Palestinian Bedouin or herder communities in Area C, the over 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli military control.
Piper highlighted previous statements by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon that Israeli zoning and planning policies are "restrictive and highly discriminatory." Added Piper: “International law is clear—Palestinians in the West Bank have the right to adequate housing and the right to receive humanitarian assistance. As the occupying power, Israel is obliged to respect these rights."
Repeated calls by international bodies for Israel to cease the displacement of Palestinians living in the occupied Palestinian territory have done little in the past to stop ongoing demolitions or illegal settlement expansion onto Palestinian land. The EU earlier this week condemned Israeli policy regarding demolition and settlement expansion, which the body said made the establishment of an independent Palestinian state impossible.