Friday, July 18, 2008

"School children threatened by Israeli settlers in South Hebron Hills"

The Right to Education Campaign, based out of Birzeit University, has just released a wonderful report on the situation facing school children in the South Hebron Hills. They explain:

Often, on their daily route to school, the children are subjected to threats and violence by the Israeli settlers. After a series of settler attacks on the children in 2004, the Children's Committee of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, ordered a military escort to accompany the children on their route to school every day. In spite of this, the military escort often does not turn up on time or escorts the children only half the way, which makes the children vulnerable to attacks. To make the situation more complex for the children, settlers have recently installed a gate on the road, which is sometimes locked and therefore prevents the children from going to school completely - and these children are therefore being denied their right to education.

The report goes on to give an example of the sort of treatment that the children regularly endure:

...on the morning of 17th March, 2008, the children were unable to meet the regular military escort. The escort jeep stopped well short of the appointed meeting place, and despite repeated calls to the military by the international volunteers and concerned Israelis, the escort jeep never came forward to meet the children. The children could not walk towards the escort jeep because of the threatening presence of a settler. The settler was near the military escort and was speaking with the soldiers. He shouted threatening remarks at the children, and also threatened them with a rock. Eventually most of the children decided to take the long route to school, walking unescorted through the hills and arriving in At-Tuwani at about 9.00am, about an hour after school had started. Four of the children returned home and did not attend school because of the problems with the escort.

This situation is not unusual; the military escort often refuses to accompany the children for the entire route, in spite of the law ordered by the Knesset, obliging them to do so.

Thank you, Right to Education, for your wonderful work!

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