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Israel closes Palestinian school to make way for army training area

February 17, 2014 at 11:17 pm

Israel’s civil administration in the occupied West Bank has ordered the closure of a Palestinian primary school in the village of Khirbit Jinba, in the hills south of Hebron. A report in Haaretz newspaper said that this is to create a training area for the Israel Defence Forces.

According to the media report, the Israelis have also confiscated the bus which is used to transport staff to the school. A demolition order has been issued to knock the school down, even though local people have no access to any other school in the vicinity; the nearest is in Yatta, 20 kilometres away.

The Israelis have also confiscated the car of a veterinarian employed by the Palestinian Authority to vaccinate sheep. The confiscation and demolition order are regarded as part of an enforcement campaign against Palestinian presence in Area C, the part of the West Bank under total Israeli control.

Haaretz pointed out that, in 1999, “the area was declared a live-fire exercise zone by the Israel Defence Forces… The residents were evicted but petitioned the High Court of Justice, which issued an interim injunction allowing them to return until it issues a final ruling. Ever since then, the case has been stuck in the legal system, with the state requesting and receiving continual postponements of the deadline for filing its response.” Last month, the Israeli government promised to file its response within 30 days.

The lawyer acting for the residents, Shlomo Lecker, told Haaretz that the wave of confiscations and demolition orders constitutes a serious violation of the High Court’s injunction. “It’s the state which has asked to delay any hearing of the petition for the last 12 years,” said Mr. Lecker, “and you can’t expect hundreds of residents of the cave village to have their lives put on hold for such a long time; that the access road to the site would be blocked; and that they would be denied the possibility of giving their children compulsory education.”