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Right-wing Israeli activists block new school for Bedouin village

Palestinian schoolchildren and make shift tents can be seen at Bedouin village of Khan Al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank on 16 July 2018 [Shadi Hatem/Apa Images]
Palestinian schoolchildren and make shift tents can be seen at Bedouin village of Khan Al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank on 16 July 2018 [Shadi Hatem/Apa Images]

The Israeli government has moved to stop construction of a school in an unrecognised Bedouin Palestinian village, after pressure from a notorious right-wing group, reported Haaretz.

According to the report, a Finance Ministry department that enforces planning and building laws has issued the stop-work order for the high school at al-Zarnug in the Negev.

In recent days, Haaretz stated, pro-settler group Regavim “has put pressure on the authorities to halt the school’s construction”.

“Obviously, building a school for the local population is an act that makes illegal settlement more permanent”, Regavim said.

“Moreover, it gives residents an erroneous message that the state is shirking its responsibility for enforcing planning and building laws in this area, in contrast to its commitment in court”.

The local regional council had already begun building the prefab school, with work due to be finished before the opening of the new school year.

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Amir Abu Qweider, the local committee’s spokesperson, told Haaretz: “We welcome the decision to build a high school in our community, a decision made according to the law”.

“The petition filed by Regavim is an attempt to abuse hundreds of students, hurting our attempts to give our children an appropriate education that will give them real opportunities for succeeding in life”, he continued.

The village of al-Zarnug has a population of several thousand, whom the Israeli state ultimately plans to forcibly relocate to Rahat.

Regavim argues that “public buildings should not be built on land slated for evacuation”, a position supported by the director general of the Authority for Development and Settlement of the Bedouin, Yair Maayan.

Hanan Afota, the director of the local regional council, “said that the decision to build the school was made with the consent of all the relevant authorities, which agreed that it should be ready by the start of the school year”.

“When the order was issued, work was halted, and at this point hundreds of students from the al-Qweider clan have nowhere to go on September 1,” he added.

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