While students around the world are waiting for the opening of their schools, Palestinian students in Ein Samiya are anxiously expecting an imminent Israeli demolition of their school. If no action is taken to thwart Israeli demolition plans, the dreams of the students of Ein Samiya about a better future forged through accessing school might be buried in what will become the rubble of their school if Israeli bulldozer demolish it.
At the request of the Civil Administration of the Israeli occupation army, the Israeli District Court in Jerusalem issued a demolition order against Ein Samiya School earlier this month. The school was built on a private land donated by a Palestinian man from the town of Kafr Malik, in January 2022.
According to Montaser Al- Malki, a grassroots organizer in Ein Samiya, “students from Ein Samiya Bedouin Community used to walk along unsecured, and muddy roads, especially in winter to distanced schools in the nearby village of Kufr Malik. They used to be subject to settlers’ attacks, summer heat and winter cold. The construction of the school protects children from all these ordeals”. “We believe that the presence of the school in the area would protect the land from confiscation as it one of the factors reinforcing the community’s steadfastness against Israeli settlements’ expansion,” he added.
School demolition at the service of settlement expansion
The looming demolition of Ein Samiya School is part of Israel’s systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the area, especially Bedouin communities’. The Israeli apartheid system is using apartheid policies against students in Area ‘C’. Denying Palestinians their human right to education creates a coercive environment to force Palestinians from their land and take over their land in favor of illegal settlers.
Ras Al-Tin School in Ein Samiya is the perfect example of the Israeli ethnic cleansing policy through depriving Palestinians of their right to education. Built in 2020, the school of Ras Al-Tin could not serve its students for more than a month as Israeli bulldozers invaded the school and reduced it to rubble shortly after its construction. This coincided with and was followed with intensified home demolition and systemic army and settler violence until the community of Ras Al-Tin was forcibly displaced in 2022. For apartheid Israel, the 120 Palestinians who used to live in Ras Al-Tin used to be an obstacle to Israel’s settlements’ expansion for decades.
The economic value of Ein Samiya has made it vulnerable to Israel’s settlement expansion and Jewish-only bypass roads. Ein Samiya is an agrarian land reserve of 58, 000 dunams [1 dunam=1000 square-meters]. It is also plentiful in water resources as it contains six natural water springs that meet the water needs of thousands of Palestinians residing in the villages located to the north of the Ramallah district.
This is why, like several Palestinian Bedouin communities in Area ‘C,’ Ein Samiya community is subjected tovarious Israeli apartheid practices and policies in water apartheid practices. Moreover, the community of Ein Samiya constantly encounter shrinking of their land, especially grazing land, as well as systemic settler attacks.
Schools at stake in Area ‘C’
The case of Ein Samiya School is not the only case of its kind. Several schools in Area C are threatened by imminent Israeli demolition by the Israeli occupation authorities. A total of 51 Palestinian schools are under a constant threat of demolition. As of 2019, 43 schools located in Area C and 8 schools in East Jerusalem received a partial or full demolition order.
For instance, in the Jordan Valley, five schools have received several demolition orders and might be razed to the ground at any moment. The destruction of threatened Palestinian schools in the Jordan Valley is taking place and an awning from the grounds of school of Khirbet Al-Maleh. The overcrowded school of Khirbet Al-Maleh consists of four classrooms and serves over 40 students from Khirbet Al-Maleh and the surrounding two Bedouin communities of Ein Al-Helweh and Al-Farsiya until grade four.
In 2020, Stop the Wall launched the Right to Education Campaign which focuses on supporting Palestinian right to education in Area ‘C’ on the ground and internationally. As part of the Right to Education Campaign, throughout 2020, Stop the Wall worked on improving the education environment in the school and kindergarten of Arab Al-Ka’abneh to make the education process more comfortable to children. We also rehabilitated and built other schools and kindergartens in the Jordan Valley.