Israeli Wall Chokes Al-Quds School

Israel is choking the Industrial Secondary School in Al-Quds with two-third of its students and teachers kept away by the controversial separation wall, barbed wires and checkpoints.

Israeli Wall Chokes Al-Quds School

"Before the wall was completed, I came everyday from Al-Khalil, leaving at 5:00 am and arriving at 8:00 am," Muatasem, 17, told Agence France Presse (AFP) on Wednesday, January 10, describing his long way from his West Bank city.

Carrying stacks of books, he used to join the long queues of fellow Palestinian pupils who trudge up the road on their hours-long walk to get to their schools.

Sometimes Muatasem had to find other ways to travel through the separation wall that zigzags through the occupied West Bank in order to reach their school.

"I managed to jump over the wall because it was lower when they were still building it," recalled the seventeen-year student.

"Sometimes I used a fake Al-Quds residency permit to get through."

The 700km-long Israeli separation barrier is a mix of electronic fences and concrete walls that will eventually snake some 900 kilometers (540 miles) along the occupied West Bank and leave even larger swathes of its territory on the Israeli side.

After the International Court of Justice issued a landmark ruling branding the wall as illegal, the UN General Assembly asked Israel to tear it down and compensate the Palestinians affected.

But Israel is defiantly pressing ahead with the construction of the wall under the pretext of protecting Jewish settlements.

Palestinians maintain that the wall is nothing but an Israeli attempt to pre-empt the borders of their future state.

No Teachers

For weeks after the start of the new school year the school administration was unable to resume activities over the lack of teachers.

"We said to the students 'We hope to open tomorrow', and the next day we said it again," deputy headmaster Hussein Nasser told AFP.

It took until November for the school to start classes, after the bare minimum of 10 out of the 65 teachers had obtained the three-month permits.

"It is always very difficult for us and the worst has been the past year because of the wall," Yusef Krunz, a teacher, said bitterly.

To make up for the teacher shortfall, the administration hired 22 new teachers from Al-Quds, but had to pay them higher salaries than their West Bank colleagues due to a higher cost of living.

Even with temporary permits to enter Al-Quds, most West Bank Palestinians are not permitted to stay in the holy city overnight.

The school risks big fines or even closure if it disobeys Israeli permit rules and has been raided several times by Israeli border police.

Israel captured and occupied Al-Quds in the six-day 1967 war, then declared its annexation in a move not recognized by the world community or UN resolutions.

Since then, the Jewish population in the city, home to Islam's third holiest shrine, has grown rapidly, with wealthy Jewish organizations buying up properties and moving settlers in.

There are now estimated to be about 200,000 Jews living in Al-Quds, alongside about 250,000 Palestinians.

Nightmarish

Even when the school did open, the attendance rate nosedived by nearly two-thirds to only 105 students drown from more than 300 in past years.

For those still attending, it is a long, risky daily journey to school.

"My parents didn't want me to come here at first," said 16-year-old Abdullah who comes to school from Nablus.

"They were worried because at the start of the year I had to go through three checkpoints to get here and then back again," he added.

"It could take two-and-a-half hours to get to school."

Over the past decade, the Israeli occupation forces implemented a closure system in the occupied West Bank through a series of roadblocks and military checkpoints.

Access and movement for Palestinians within the occupied West Bank has been crippled by more than 700 barriers and checkpoints.

The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on December 15 to establish a UN registry to record and process claims of damages stemming from the construction of the separation wall.

Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
Add Comment