As trade unions in the UK and Ireland representing educations workers in schools, colleges and universities, we are shocked and dismayed to hear of the imminent demolition of yet another school in the West Bank.
We understand that on 6 March, the Israeli Central Court rejected a petition filed by Palestinians against the demolition of the school Jubbet ad Dib. The Court gave the Civil Administration a period of 60 days to demolish the school.
These demolitions are happening despite Israel signing the Optional Protocol to the Rights of the Child in Armed Conflict on 14 November 2001, ratified on 18 July 2005.
Israel is also a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including Articles 25, 26 & 27; and a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, including Articles 28, 29, 30 and 31. These articles of international law are being violated as schools are being demolished.
As education trade unions who are committed to the realisation of rights under the Universal Declaration and the UN convention on the Rights of the Child, and whose members dedicate their professional lives to children and young people’s education, this is a situation that we are profoundly concerned about, that we understand to be completely beyond the law, and that we call upon the Israeli authorities to bring to an immediate end.
We urge the Israeli Government immediately to call a halt to demolition of Jubbet ad Dib, along with other planned demolitions of schools in the West Bank.
Such violations of Palestinian rights and international law are inextricably linked to the occupation of the Palestinian territories, which Israel must bring to an end.
- Andrea Bradley, General Secretary, EIS (The Educational Institute of Scotland)
- Kevin Callinan, General Secretary, FORSA
- John Boyle, General Secretary, INTO (Irish National Teachers' Organisation)
- Patrick Roach, General Secretary, NASUWT (the Techers’ Union)
- Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretaries, NEU (National Education Union)
- Jo Grady, General Secretary, UCU (University and College Union)
- Christina McAnea, General Secretary, Unison
The background is:
- The school is located in Jubbet ad Dhib community, close to Beit Ta'mir village, southeast of Bethlehem. The donor funded school was established in 2017 and is now serving more than 40 students (15 boys and 25 girls) from grades 1-4. The school was established to serve the children of the community who had to walk long distances and cross a main road to reach the nearest school. The school is built on private land donated by the local community.
- The day before the 2017/18 school year was due to start in August 2017, the school was demolished by Israeli soldiers.
- In September 2017, the school was rebuilt by around 100 volunteers overnight and lessons began the next day. The newly rebuilt school was named ‘Challenge 5 School’, because it was the fifth school to be built by the Ministry in areas threatened by Israeli settlement construction. These schools are within Area C, which is under Israeli military control, near military outposts and Israeli settlements.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) stated that Israeli restrictions in Area C had made it “virtually impossible” for Palestinians to obtain building permits there. According to OCHA, as a result of such Israeli policies, more than a third of Palestinian communities in Area C lack primary schools.
- A Building Permit for the school was submitted in February 2021, an agreement was reached between the state and the petitioners, whereby the petitioners submitted a new detailed plan for the school in March 2021.
- On 12 January 2023, the Planning Sub-Committee of the ICA (the Industrial Cooperation Authority at the Ministry of Economy and Industry) rejected the new outline plan. The ICA granted The Society of St. Yves (a Catholic human rights organisation working in Palestine) 30 days to take legal action (the 30 days duration expired on 10 February 2023).
- On 10 Feb 2023, St. Yves submitted a petition to the District Court against the demolition of the school along with a request for an interim injunction. The Court granted the interim injunction protecting the school. The Court asked the ICA to respond to the petition and the interim injunction.
- On 26 Feb 2023, the Israeli Court refused to extend the petition submitted by the Settlement and Wall Resistance Commission and St. Yves to stop the demolition.
- On 6 March, the Israeli Central Court rejected the petition filed by the Palestinians against the demolition. The Court gave the Civil Administration the period of 60 days to demolish the school.