By the Yanoun team.
We have all heard about what is going on in Susiya lately. Demolitions, demolitions and demolitions. But we have not heard from Khan al Ahmar. In Khan Al Ahmar, a small mixed primary school made out of used rubber tyres is being threatened with demolition by the Israeli Civil Administration.
Khan Al Ahmar is a bedouin community with about 180 residents located in East Jerusalem, right on Road no.1 which leads east towards Jericho. The houses are small and look like makeshift shelters. Some of them are small housing units donated by the EU. Khan al Ahmar, like most bedouin communities, is not recognised by the state of Israel and as a result is not connected to the main electricity grid or water supply. In addition Khan Al Ahmar at risk of forcible transfer due to Government of Israel’s relocation plan.
In 1991, large parts of the communities’ living areas were incorporated into the Ma’ale Adumim settlement bloc and ever since Israeli policies have increased the pressure on the communities to leave their homes.  Recently the situation has become particularly difficult. Residents have had to endure continuous harassment by settlers, and report that settlers come into the village and photograph and map any new structures that they build. Later on, they pass the information to the Forum of Jerusalem Suburbs, which in turn, pressures the Civil Administration to take action against illegal building. According to photographs and other data obtained by Haaretz, “settler documentation of illegal construction by Bedouin in the West Bank has led to heightened enforcement and demolitions in Bedouin communities that have slowed their growth.”  Meanwhile settlements in the area continue to expand. 
School starts in a few weeks. The tyre school is scheduled to begin classes on the 28th of this month, that is of course if it has not been demolished in the meantime. Khan al Ahmar was built in 2009 and partially funded by EU governments. It has many classrooms, a small football field made with turf, and a playground. The school has 170 students, of which 85 are girls, and is run by 15 teachers. The students come from five different bedouin communities in the surrounding area. The community takes great pride in its school and is very upset that it is being threatened with demolition. 
Nasreen, a young 13 year old girl who is going to eighth grade said: “they do not want us to be educated, they want to demolish the school”. She clearly knows the value of an education. That is because, eduction is becoming increasingly important in bedouin communities. And although ending school early is still common, especially among bedouin girls, the numbers finishing school and going on to university are now in their hundreds.
The tyre school serves children until 9th grade. After that, children who are continuing their education must travel half an hour to Jericho or to Eizariya to get to school. Getting to these schools is not only dangerous, but also very costly. Children must cross and wait on a busy highway to take taxis to school. In the past some children were actually hit by cars while crossing the highway. So for these reasons, most girls and some of the boys are not able to continue their education beyond 9th grade. Before the tyre school was built in 2009, all girls and most boys didn’t attend school at all. Now, even the tyre school is under threat of demolition. The community fears that if the demolition takes place, girls living in these communities will not be able to attend school anymore.
As the occupying power Israel has a duty to ensure that Palestinian children’s’ right to education is upheld. The right to education is protected under Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the International Covenant on Economic, Social And Cultural Rights (1966), the Convention on the Elimination Of All Forms Of Discrimination Against Women (1979), and the Convention On The Rights of The Child (1989).
The tyre school has stood here as a symbol of steadfastness and peaceful resistance since it was built. The community leader told us that if the school closes many families will be forced to leave the village if they want to continue their children’s education. We have to stand by the community of Khan al Ahmar. We must take action today to ensure that the tyre schools is not demolished and that the children of Khan al Ahmar have safe and unhindered access to education.
Thirteen year old Nasreen understands the importance of education, she wants to be a teacher. She said education is a means for her community to defend themselves. She also understands that it is a way to generate income when you grow up. Education is Nasreen’s, and every child’s, right.
Sadly, this is not a unique case. Palestinians are largely prohibited by the Israeli Civil Administration [ICA] from building structures in Area C of the West Bank [62% of the WB] and East Jerusalem. As a result many communities are forced to build their homes and schools without Israeli-issued permits even though they know there is a high risk that they will be demolished. The ICA, a branch of the Israeli Military, declares structures built without an Israeli issued building permit illegal and frequently demolishes them. According to the most recent figures from the UN Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism three schools were demolished in 2015 affecting 50 children and two others were served with demolition orders.
Please take action today to halt the demolition of Khan al Ahmar’s tyre school and the forced displacement of its residents.
UNRWA, the UN agency providing assistance to refugees in occupied Palestine, has some useful information here on steps you can take to help stop the planned demolition of the Khan Al Ahmar community’s school. Please consider updating these resources using information from this blog and take action today.
UNRWA: THE RUBBER-TYRE SCHOOL
UNRWA: LIVING WITH THE THREAT OF DEMOLITION
OCHA factsheet : Bedouin Communities at Risk of Forcible Transfer, September 2014