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HAITHEM TAMIMI, REUTERS, 25 JUNE 2005
Israeli soldiers on Saturday left three Palestinian schools in the West Bank town of Hebron that they had used for four years as posts to observe militants.
The army said it left the buildings to “ease restrictions on residents” and after reassessing the security situation.
Troops set up an observation post 200 meters from one of the schools, but said Palestinians will be allowed to reach and enter all of them freely.
Palestinians walked across broken glass from smashed windows and pushed aside shattered doors as they assessed the damage to the schools, once frequented by more than 2,000 students.
Officials plan to rebuild and open them in a month.
Troops seized the schools, in a Palestinian-controlled area overlooking a Jewish settlement, after a Palestinian uprising erupted in 2000. Israeli and Palestinian leaders declared a truce in February, although violence has flared in recent weeks.
Israel and the Palestinian Authority control different parts of Hebron, where about 500 heavily guarded Jewish settlers live among 120,000 Palestinians. It has often been the scene of deadly clashes.
“My four daughters went to the school and I was worried about my four daughters walking among soldiers and settlers to reach other schools,” said resident Mohammed al-Jabari.
“I am glad to hear the students will be able to resume their normal studies,” said governor Arif al-Jabari. “But Hebron is in a miserable situation. The occupation still exists.”
Palestinians say Israel restricts their freedom of movement in the city with closures and roadblocks.