The Palestinian Authority has called on the international community to pressure the Israeli government not to destroy a small adobe Palestinian Beduin school, located in Area C of the West Bank, just outside of Jerusalem.
On Wednesday, the Education Ministry has organized a solidarity protest outside the al-Khan al-Ahmar School, which is located on a small ridge, overlooking Route 1.
“International organizations, consulates embassies, and friends will participate,” PA Education Ministry Spokesman Abd al-Hakim Abu Jamoos told The Jerusalem Post.
The small adobe brown school that was built with international funds, inaugurated the start of the fall semester a week earlier than all other Palestinian schools on Tuesday to attract local and international attention to its situation.
On Tuesday afternoon, pupils and teachers sifted through books in one of classrooms. The cluster of half-a dozen one room buildings can only be reached by a dirt road.
The Civil Administration issued a demolition order against it already in 2009. Since then the NGO Regavim as well the nearby settlement of Kfar Adumim have filed a number of petitions to the High Court of Justice. They asked the court to force the Civil Administration to demolish the school and the Palestinian Beduin encampments around it that are home to some 100 families.
Attorney Shlomo Leker who represents the Beduin community, said that the case had been closed after the state said it would remove the school and the community once it found an alternative location for them.
But in 2016, the Kfar Adumim petitioned the HCJ again, noting that no action had been taken.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman is set to issue an opinion on the matter next week. But the PA and community members fear that he will tell the court, that the Civil Administration now plans to destroy the school.
The PA Education Ministry established The al-Khan al-Ahmar School in 2009 with the support of a number of international parties including the Italian government, the UN Office of the for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, he UNDP, and the Norwegian Refugee Council.
The campaign to save the school, as Israel is under intense international pressure to halt such demolitions.
Settlers who live in the area situated between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, however, have persistently wanted the government that the number of illegal Palestinian and Beduin herding encampments have grown, particularly around Route 1, which is a main artery leading into Jerusalem.
They have wanted that the encampments have been strategically placed there by the Palestinian Authority to secure its hold on an area that it believes it vital to its future state.
Lacker said that one of the issue was lack of building permits for the Beduin, so that they did not have the option of legalized structures.
The school has grown steadily over the years and now employs 16 teachers and serves approximately 179 students from first to ninth grade, who live in five different local Bedouin encampments.
Headmaster Halima Zahaika told the Post that the school was built to lessen the burden of transportation on local students. “Our students previously had to travel long distances to Jericho or Azarariya, which required many of them to wake up at 5AM and return home at 4PM.”
“Al-Khan Al-Ahmar changed that and has allowed them to receive an excellent education near their homes.”
Zahaika also remarked that even if Israel closes the school, she and her staff plan to continue educating their students. “If Israel closes the school, we will teach classes in tents. We cannot allow our students to be deprived of their most basic right to an education,” she said.
For its part, the PA Education Ministry hopes that international pressure will allow the school to continue to operate. “The PA Education Ministry completely rejects [any] decision to close the al-Khan al-Ahmar school and calls on all international organizations and consulates and embassies to intervene immediately to prevent the closure of the school,” Abu Jamoos, the ministry spokesman said.