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Press Release, Ministry of Education and Higher Education, 15 September 2005
“States Parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life…States Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child”. (Article 6, United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, September 1990)
According to the UN Commission on Human Rights’ special Rapporteur on the right to education, “military occupations are another appreciable curb on the human right to education, the most egregious example being the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” (UN Doc. E/CN.4 17 Dec. 2004, paragraph 124). And the International Court of Justice in July 2004 found that the Wall and the laws associated with it impede the liberty of movement of Palestinians in the occupied territories and consequently the exercise of their right to education.
Israeli attacks on Palestinian social and educational institutions continue in violation of international humanitarian law and all United Nations conventions. The occupation’s restrictions on movement and the land grabbing wall of separation constitute a real obstacle that prevent people in general, and school children in particular, from reaching their schools, and disrupt their daily life. The Israeli military continues to target school children, teachers and administrators through its policies of closures, detention, shooting and other forms of collective punishment.
Palestinian children and their most basic rights are being violated on a daily basis. Children and their families are subjected to frequent and prolonged military curfews, detained without charge; and up to 350 Palestinian children are currently in detention centers in Israel. Children’s homes are demolished, and they are often used as human shield by soldiers. More than 800 children have been killed in the past 5 years, and thousands injured; and there have been numerous cases of cold-blooded murder of Palestinian children throughout the past 5 years, but such stories are rarely told by the mainstream media.
As we started the new school-year in September, the Israeli occupation authorities have escalated such measures to impede the educational process and deny school and college students their guaranteed right to safe and accessible education. Such policies impact students throughout the Palestinian occupied territories, particularly in Jerusalem where students can find themselves on the “wrong” side of the separation wall barrier.
3403 students and 33 schools are currently affected by the barrier because their teachers are not able to reach their schools, and many of the students are also unable to reach their own schools that happen to be on the other side of the Wall. The Wall that encircles the city of Jerusalem deprives over 2000 students and 260 teachers from reaching their schools in the al-Ram and Dahia neighborhoods alone; in addition to 6000 Jerusalem students living outside who find themselves cut off from their schools in the City.
In the towns of Abu-Dis and Azariyeh, with only 4 schools for 5000 students, 2180 of those who attended schools in the City will have no access to their schools in Jerusalem. 320 teachers (50%) in Palestinian Authority run schools, and 170 teachers (20%) in private Palestinian schools in Jerusalem will be prevented from reaching their schools in the City since they reside outside the infamous separation Wall.
College and university students residing in the City also will be separated from their colleges by the Wall barrier. College students impacted by this situation include 1500 students in Al-Quds University, 1000 students in Bethlehem University, and 700 Birzeit University students.
Schools inside the City (Jerusalem) boundaries are subjected to threats of closure or arrest of students, teachers, or administrators. The Vocational School in the Industrial Zone for instance, which belongs to al-Ram district, is often threatened with persecution for having teachers on its staff that live outside the City Wall of separation, or just for the school being in Jerusalem. In the villages of Numan and Khas students risk their lives smuggling themselves in through dirt roads for lack of access to their schools. The Wall has cut right through the middle of the football field of the Anata School re! ndering it unusable, and destroying the school’s main gate in the process.
It is almost impossible for Palestinians to build, expand, or renovate their schools in Jerusalem in order to accommodate the increased number of students coming in, due to the Israeli restrictions imposed on Palestinians in the City. Moreover, Israeli military assault on educational institutions includes raids on premises, destruction of facilities, targeting of teachers, and closure or occupation of buildings.
In his story “A Gaza Diary”, HarperÂ’s Magazine, October 2001, Chris Hedges reported: “yesterday at this spot the Israelis shot eight young men, six of whom were under the age of eighteen. One was twelve. This afternoon they killed an eleven-year-old boy, Ali Murad, and seriously wounded four more three of whom are under eighteen. Children have been shot in other conflicts I have coveredÂ…but I have never before watched soldiers entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport.”
The Ministry of Education and Higher Education strongly urges the international community, international human rights organizations, children’s rights groups and NGOs to investigate the conditions of education under occupation; to intervene to end the suffering of Palestinian children and people; and to ensure that children can exercise their right to reach their schools and colleges safely and freely, and their teachers to perform their duties that are protected under international law.