Human Rights Watch said Wednesday that Israeli policy of demolishing schools in the West Bank and denying the Palestinians building permits for new ones violates local residents’ right to education and pressures Palestinians to leave the Israeli-controlled areas, which may be ultimately qualified as an international crime.
“Israeli authorities have been getting away for years with demolishing primary schools and preschools in Palestinian communities. The Israeli military’s refusal to issue building permits and then knocking down schools without permits is discriminatory and violates children’s right to education … Israeli officials should be on notice that razing dozens of Palestinian schools not only can block children from getting an education, but may be an international crime,” Bill Van Esveld, senior children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch said, as quoted in the watchdog’s statement.
More than a third of Palestinian communities in the so-called West Bank’s Area C, where the Israeli occupation military has exclusive control over building under the 1993 Oslo accords, currently do not have primary schools.
Occupation authorities say that they were built “without permits” from the military, while zoning only one percent of Area C for the building of educational facilities, according to the press release.
As a result, 10,000 children attend school in tents, shacks, or other structures without heating or air-conditioning, the watchdog noted, citing the UN data.
Thousands of Palestinian children have to walk several kilometers to school at the risk of facing harassment by settlers or the occupation military, which leads to some parents taking their children out of school, with a disproportionate impact on girls, according to the watchdog.