***image3***Twelve year-old Hamaam Ismael sits down leaning against a massive tree that died after it was uprooted by an Israeli bulldozer to prepare the land for the footprint of the Apartheid Wall. The young boy wonders about his and his family’s future.



He shares these burning questions with some 250 students in his school. Each day they go home worried about the fate of their school, houses, and village – Beit Ur. The village is being isolated from neighbouring villages by the Wall. Hamaam says: “Our daily suffering is great but it becomes worse every winter. We are forced to walk on foot for half an hour to reach school. The new road opened by the village council is sandy but at least allows us to reach our goal: Education”.



***image2***The school in Beit Ur is totally surrounded – by the Apartheid Wall on one side and the walled-in settler-only Road No. 443 on the other. Further, the settlement of Beit Horon encroaches on the western part of the school. The “alien” infrastructure of Zionist colonization creates fear, trauma and suffering for the villagers and the students.



The students are regularly chased by settlers or Occupation Forces stationed along the Wall, the apartheid road or the settlement. The path to school has become dangerous and the education system in the village is threatened.



Students from a nearby village called Tira attend the same school. These students suffer also every morning from the same illegal Apartheid Wall.



***image4***Occupation Forces have forbidden Tira students from crossing the settler by-pass road. If any of them try, he or she will be arrested. Therefore, the students use a drainage hole below the Wall to reach school. This hole was built to prevent rain water from flooding the area and, in winter, crossing under the Wall becomes a real life threatening operation.



Issa Ali Issa, the administrative manager of the school, said: “First, the Wall was built around our school then the Occupation Forces imposed restrictive rules upon the students. The students are no longer allowed to come to school or go back home, so they are forced to move in big groups with a teacher accompanying them.”



The situation escalates when the Occupation Forces learn that a group of students went home from school without the company of teachers. “At that point, the military comes and starts interrogating the teachers and threatening the administration,” he explains. He adds that “the walkway through the drainage hole that the students use is not even suitable for animals to pass. In winter, the water rises up to 30 cm high. That is very dangerous.”



“The Occupation Forces once came and destroyed the pole where the Palestinian flag is raised. Now it is forbidden to hoist the flag. In addition, they closed all the school gates other than one small opening for the students to enter.”



Every now and then, additional “procedures” are taken against the school. Sometimes the Occupation Forces cut the water supply to the school. Recently, they narrowed the sand road that buses previously used to bring children to school. Now no bus can reach the school.



The school administration has decided to attempt to minimize the threats that the students and the entire educational system are facing in the area. Lessons for basic levels (until grade 6) have been moved to a new building further away from the Wall. High school levels remain in the old building. This solves part of the problem, at least for the younger students, and hopefully will help to secure their education.



However, the villagers are not willing to give in to threats by the Occupation Forces to close the school and take away the land. The area where the school is located has been slated for settlement expansion. Thus, the Occupation has tried its best to persuade the school administration and the villagers to give up the school and the land around it. Once, they even offered to buy the land for a large sum of money and another time they offered to build a new school for the village in an area far away from the old school.



The school was built in the early fifties. It has a longer history than the occupation of the West Bank itself. In 1955, the school even ranked first in an honorary certificate awarded by the Ministry of Education of the Hashemite Kingdom for the care that they took in gardening and beautifying the surroundings of the school. Now the green has become the grey of the Wall. Visitors to the school will only be able to see the cement towering over the school and the barren land from which all trees have been uprooted.



***image5***

























x

Select (Ctrl+A) and Copy (Ctrl+C)