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Bedouin village in Negev urges Israel to connect schools to electricity

Children in Gaza use candles for light due to the electricity crisis in Gaza [file photo]
Children in Gaza use candles for light due to the electricity crisis in Gaza [File photo]

An “unrecognised” Bedouin village in the Negev is urging the Israeli authorities to connect its schools to the national electrical grid.

Currently, Wadi El-Na’am’s schools and kindergartens – attended by some 3,000 children – are powered by diesel generators. There are in fact electrical power lines already running through village, but they only serve nearby chemical plants.

Legal rights centre Adalah wrote to senior Israeli government officials on 6 September, on behalf of the Wadi El-Na’am parents committee and the local village council, demanding that all the schools and kindergartens are connected to the national grid.

“The diesel deliveries take place during the school day when students and staff are all onsite, which undoubtedly poses a danger to their health and safety,” Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher wrote in the letter. “Access to the generators is not entirely blocked off and children are able to walk over to the generators during recesses in the schoolyards, putting them in life-threatening danger.”

“The generators also produce noise, which disturbs classes.”

In many cases during power outages caused by generator failures, principals are forced to cancel school entirely – particularly during periods of heavy heat and cold winter temperatures.

“During these conditions, it is impossible to hold classes and insufferable for students and educational staff alike.”

Read: Gazans left without electricity for 30 continuous hours

In previous, similar cases, the Israeli Supreme Court has described the state’s failure to connect schools to the electrical grid as unreasonable and a “grave failure”.

Wadi El-Na’am’s local council described the current situation as “unsafe and likely to cause accidents”, adding: “Our children have the right to study in reasonable conditions, like any other child in the State of Israel. It is shameful that in 2017 we have to ask to get a school connected to electricity.”

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