Where going to school ends in arrest

On the eve of the 20th Anniversary of the Oslo Accords, EAPPI presence crucial in helping youth finish their education

by Jennifer, Yanoun team

1393J. Werkhoven -EAPPI team Yanoun on welcome visit to school

Photo EAPPI/J. van Werkhoven

This Friday, September 13, marks the 20th Anniversary of the Oslo accords.  Although, this agreement was meant to be a temporary solution, today, Palestinian territory is still divided into Area A, B, C. In Area C, Israel completely controls militarily and civilly 60% of the West Bank and in Area B, Israel exercises military control. 20 years after Oslo, the village of Yatma sees daily the consequence of Israeli control in the area, especially its dire affects on the lives of schoolchildren.

ocha_opt_the_closure_map_2013_04_21_nablusA perilous road

Yatma, located about 15 kilometers south of Nablus is next to the Israeli settlement of Rechalim. In between Yatma and Rechalim lies Road 50, a source of continued tension and difficulties for the village of Yatma, especially hindering education.

Most boys from Yatma attend school on the opposite side of Road 50 from Yatma and they must walk on Road 50 on their way to school.  The settlers from Rechalim, however, often complain to the Israeli military if boys from Yatma come to close to their settlement on Road 50.

16 boys arrested

In 2011, the situation came to a head when the Israeli army arrested 16 Yatma teenagers, accusing them of using Road 50 and throwing stones.  The teenagers confessed that they were walking on Road 50, but only to go to school.

“The children confessed to the army that they were walking on the road,” explains the mayor of Yatma, “but they signed a paper in Hebrew that they were walking along the road  and throwing stones.”

As a result of signing a confession which the boys could not read the Israeli authorities sentenced the boys to 20 to 35 months in prison. Two have been released, but the rest remain in prison.

After this incident, the village of Yatma decided that they would send their teenage boys of Yatma to another school until the age of 17.  “This is not the ideal for our students, but I see no other way for our boys to receive a good education,” described the mayor of Yatma.

EAPPI presence supports right to education

A new school doesn’t solve everything. The Israeli occupation affects boys schools especially, as Israeli soldiers are present primarily around boys schools, explains Dr. Mohammed Awwad, Director of Education for the Palestinian Authority. For this reason, the village of Yatma requested the presence of EAPPI for protection as boys go to school.

Dr. Awwad praises EAPPI, saying, “students feel safer if you are there.” Not only does EAPPI presence protect boys from Israeli military violence, it also reduces the amount boys dropping out of school and enables them to finish their secondary school education.

In the shadow of Oslo

Access to education, both primary and secondary education, is a basic human right for children and is stipulated in both Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 14 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

In light of the 20th Anniversary of the Oslo Accords, children’s right to education suffers under the shadow of continued Israeli control in over 60% of the West Bank. Yatma, is one village of many, where ensuring a bright future for the next generation is a constant struggle.

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