EU diplomats visit West Bank school slated for demolition

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KAFR MALIK, West Bank (AP) — European officials on Friday visited a small school serving an impoverished Bedouin community in the occupied West Bank that is threatened with demolition by Israel.

The EU funds such construction to help Palestinians maintain their presence in the 60% of the West Bank under full Israeli control, known as Area C, where the army regularly demolishes homes and other structures built without permits difficult to obtain.

Representative of the EU…

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KAFR MALIK, West Bank (AP) — European officials on Friday visited a small school serving an impoverished Bedouin community in the occupied West Bank that is threatened with demolition by Israel.

The EU funds such construction to help Palestinians maintain their presence in the 60% of the West Bank under full Israeli control, known as Area C, where the army regularly demolishes homes and other structures built without permits difficult to obtain.

EU representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff, who led the delegation, said it was “completely unacceptable that the Israeli authorities are destroying this and demolishing that”.

“This violates their obligations under international law, including international human rights law, where they must protect and promote the rights of children under their care in Palestine to benefit from education services,” he said.

The school was built in January and currently has 17 students. COGAT, the military body responsible for civilian affairs in the West Bank, did not respond to a request for comment.

Area C was delineated in interim peace accords signed in the 1990s, which granted the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority limited autonomy in the rest of the West Bank – scattered enclaves known as Areas A and B.

Earlier this year, Israel’s Supreme Court approved the eviction of some 1,000 Palestinians from Masafer Yatta, a group of Bedouin communities in Area C that lie inside a shooting training area real estate established by the army in the 1980s. Residents say they have been there for decades, practicing traditional agriculture, while Israel says there were no permanent structures at the time the field shooting has been established.

In a separate development, Israeli rights group B’Tselem said on Friday that Nasser Nawaj’ah, one of its Palestinian field researchers in the southern West Bank, was detained by the military over the weekend. -last end, blindfolded and handcuffed, and detained for 12 hours. B’Tselem said an interrogator told him to stop “causing trouble” and “indulging in friction” with the army.

There was no immediate comment from the military.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East War and built more than 130 settlements there that are home to nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers. The authorities tolerate several additional settlement outposts built without official permission.

The Palestinians want the West Bank to form the main part of their future state. They and most of the international community view all settlements as a violation of international law and an obstacle to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Right-wing Israeli groups have sharply criticized EU support for construction in Area C, accusing it of favoring Palestinian claims to land that Israel officially considers disputed territory. The peace process failed more than a decade ago.

Khader Kaabna, a member of the Bedouin community where the school is to be demolished, said 28 families comprising some 200 people had lived in the area for four decades.

He said that without the school, children would have to travel 15 kilometers (9 miles) to another school – which is also under threat of demolition – to receive an education, passing near outposts set up by settlers. extremists.

“If this school is demolished by the occupation, a large number of students will stop going to school because their parents are afraid of settler attacks,” he said. “The settlers seek to uproot this community from the area.”

___ Krauss reported from Ottawa, Ontario.

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