Israel Police Raids Jerusalem School It Claims Used by Palestinian Authority

Students and teachers were removed from the Dar al-Aytam school in Jerusalem's Old City, and documents were confiscated, Palestinian sources say

Israeli forces near Dar al-Aytam school, Jerusalem, November 20, 2019.

Israel Police raided a Palestinian school in Jerusalem's Old City on Wednesday on allegations that the Palestinian Authority was operating a branch of the Palestinian Education Ministry from within the school, allegedly violating agreements with Israel.

According to Palestinian sources, in the course of the raid on the Dar al-Aytam school, the police removed students and teachers from the building in the middle of the school day and classes were cancelled for the rest of the day. Three school administration employees were arrested, one of them while being at home at the time of the raid.

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Police also entered offices in the building and confiscated file binders and documents.

The Israeli Public Security Ministry issued a statement alleging that the Palestinian Education Ministry branch was operating under the name of the Palestinian Parents' Committee and was funded by the PA.

Agreements between Israeli and the Palestinians prohibit the Palestinian Authority from operating in East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed following the 1967 Six-Day War.

"This branch actively subverted the sovereignty of the State of Israel in Jerusalem by initiating and directing belligerent activity and violence," the Public Security Ministry stated.

A Palestinian source involved in the education system in Jerusalem denied that Palestinian Parents' Committee is linked to the PA, claiming it's affiliated with Waqf, the Islamic custodian of the Temple Mount and the Kingdom of Jordan. Another official said that the office provided accounting services for a number of East Jerusalem schools.

Following the police operation at the school, the police raided the studios of a Palestinian television station that operates in East Jerusalem. "The station broadcasts anti-Israeli and anti-Zionist content, which in the professional opinion of security officials, are broadcast with the goal of inciting its viewers against the State of Israel," the Public Security Ministry said in its statement.

In recent years, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has stepped up police efforts against events and institutions in Jerusalem that are believed to be connected to the Palestinian Authority. This has included police operations to disperse news conferences, cultural events and women's events.

In 2019 Erdan has signed 10 orders in response to activities or events allegedly sponsored by the PA in Jerusalem. He is also sponsoring legislation that would stiffen penalties for violation of Israeli sovereignty in the city to include up to three years in prison.

"The Israeli government is investing great efforts and funds to fight Palestinian influence in East Jerusalem. The activity I ordered to prevent constitutes an increase in the Palestinian Authority's efforts to interfere in the education of children in East Jerusalem and to introduce inciting content into the Israeli education system. I will continue to lead a firm policy against any attempt by the PA to violate our sovereignty in the capital," Erdan said.

"Palestinian television broadcasts are another way in which the PA is trying to incite against the State of Israel, to spark disturbances of the peace, to spread lies and lead to incidents of violence and terrorism, including on the Temple Mount."

For its part, the Israeli non-profit group Ir Amim, whose stated mission is to "render Jerusalem a more equitable and sustainable city for the Israelis and Palestinians who share it," noted that the raid on the school was held on Universal Children's Day.