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As Israeli children gear up for the beginning of a new school year next month, Bedouin children from the Jahalin tribe just southeast of Jerusalem hope that their new school will still be standing.
After years of difficulty accessing education due to road blockades, dangerous travel conditions, and economic constraints, the Jahalin children and their families hope that the new school structure recently built by Italian organization Wind of the Earth and members of the community will not be demolished, Haaretz reports.
Because the school was built without a permit, the Civil Administration of Israel has ordered that construction of the school cease. Now members of the Jahalin community worry that the structure will be altogether demolished. The government order stands despite the efforts and involvement of many in the community in building the school, and in attempting to provide more consistent education for the children of Jahalin.
The project to build a school for Jahalin children was initiated by Valerio Marazzi, an Italian architect who used old tires as his main construction material. Because members of the community knew the chances of receiving a building permit were small, they opted not to apply for a permit. Now, the future of their children’s education remains in jeopardy.
The educational disadvantages that children from the Jahalin tribe face are part of a wider struggle against educational inequity that disproportionately affect Bedouin children. Since their expulsion from Israel in 1948 from the Negev desert’s Tel Arad community, the Jahalin have led a life of marginalization in the West Bank, and their freedom of movement remains at the mercy of road blockades and ever changing travel routes restrictions.
After 1967, restrictions of movement on the Jahalin increased as land seizure continued under the premise of security. Most recently, the building of the separation wall between Israel and the West Bank and the expansion of settlements has meant increased restrictions on movement and most detrimentally for children, greater difficulty in accessing education. In addition to hindering educational opportunity, land restrictions and seizures also mean many Bedouin communities have no right to land tenure and can be forcibly displaced at any moment, according to the BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights.
Should the tire structure that constitutes a school for Jahalin children be demolished, parents within the Jahalin community will once again struggle to find ways of securing their children’s basic education, and their children’s right to learn will again be at the mercy of ongoing construction projects of the Israeli authority.