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Israeli forces storm Palestinian school in West Bank, confiscating mobile cafeteria

Security services raid a primary school in the village of Dahr al-Maleh, claiming its construction was illegal
Israeli forces confiscate a mobile container used as a kitchen and cafeteria by Dahr Al-Maleh Elementary School (MEE/Shatha Hammad)
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Occupied West Bank

Israeli forces raided a school in the village of Dahr al-Maleh in the West Bank, demolished its wall and confiscated a mobile container that was used as a cafeteria on Monday, the head of the village council told Middle East Eye.

Israeli forces stormed into the village at 6.30am, smashing through the gates of the primary school and breaking down its doors, Omar al-Khatib said.

The Dahr Al Maleh Elementary Mixed School, located south of Jenin in the northern occupied West Bank, has been under constant threat of being demolished and has not been granted permission for any construction on its premises.

Due to the lack of space, parents donated a mobile container for the school to utilise as a cafeteria and kitchen, according to Khatib. Israeli troops confiscated tools, a refrigerator, gas stove, cleaning equipment and stationery, he said.

The school also known as "Tahaddi (Challenge) 17 School" opened in January, with Italian support. It has 38 students aged five to 15 years old and employs eight teachers.

In November 2018, Israeli forces confiscated building materials during its construction period. In June, the Israeli foces took away a tractor and more building materials while the school was being further developed.

Israeli authorities claim the school is outside the structural plan demarcated for the village, although its foundation is only 20 metres off the plan, Khatib said.

“Israel issued a decision to demolish the school on 2 January, and the village lawyer succeeded in consolidating its decision,” he added.

Salam Taher, Director of Education in Jenin, said the construction of “Challenge 17 School” was extremely difficult and was planned by parents in secret.

“We insisted on building a school in the area and providing a safe learning environment for students, especially because the village is very far from nearby villages, and children were forced to cross the checkpoint daily to reach their school,” she added.

Taher gave assurances that the Palestinian Ministry of Education would continue to provide the necessary legal protection for the school and prevent further attacks by Israeli forces.

"We have no choice but to challenge and withstand the Israeli aggressions,” Taher said.

In a statement, the Palestinian Ministry of Education called on all human rights and humanitarian organisations and defenders of education to urgently intervene to put an end to these violations, which affect the right to education guaranteed by international and human rights laws.

The village of Dhar al-Maleh is located behind the separation wall, in place since 2002. Access is strictly restricted by checkpoints and Israeli occupying forces permit only residents and landowners to enter the village, causing significant isolation.

According to Khatib, on 7 October 2018, Israeli authorities stepped up the siege of the village, which has a population of 550 people, by confiscating 492 acres.

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The separation wall is located to its south, while to the west there is an Israeli military base, and it is surrounded to the east and north by a number of settlements.

Thirty families from Dhar al-Maleh have been forced to move outside the village because they have been prevented from expanding existing buildings or developing the land, Khatib said.

"Palestinians of Dhar al-Maleh will stand and resist with the simplest tools they have in hand," he said.

"Today, we call on the Palestinian Authority and the whole world to support the village and stand beside its people who live with very simple possibilities, and are targeted daily by Israel.”