Israel: West Bank School for Bedouin Children to Be Demolished, Relocated

More than 100 students are enrolled in the school in Khan al-Ahmar, which has become a symbol for the West Bank's Bedouin community. The structure was built in 2009, but local residents claim they were unable to obtain a permit due to Israeli policy.

Bedouin schoolchildren study in makeshift school in Negev
Khaled Diab

A school in the illegal Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar, near Kfar Adumim in the West Bank, is to be demolished and moved to another location, the state informed the High Court of Justice Wednesday. Responding to a petition by residents of Jewish settlements near the school, the state argued that the Defense Ministry was looking for an area to which to move the school. 

The school was built in 2009 with the assistance of an Italian NGO, Vento Di Terra, using ecological methods including construction out of used tires. There are currently more than 100 students at the school, which has become a symbol for the West Bank's Bedouin community. Diplomats frequently visit the school to express support for the Palestinians.

Ran Rosenberg, representing the state, asked the High Court to postpone its official response to the petition until October so a new location for the school could be found. Like the other Bedouin communities in the area, the school was built without permits from the state. The state therefore issued a demolition order against the school but did not enforce it. 

Residents of the nearby settlements petitioned the High Court a number of times demanding that the school be demolished. The residents of Khan al-Ahmar claimed through their attorney Shlomo Lecker that they were unable to obtain a permit to build the school because of Israel’s discriminatory policy.

Eid Hamis Jahalin, a local resident, told Haaretz following the state’s announcement to the court that “it’s all because of Kfar Adumim,” adding: “The school isn’t bothering anyone. This is happening because the settlers want all the Bedouins out of the area entirely, that’s their decision. So now they start with the school and after that, there will be a demolition order against all the Bedouin.”

Two right-wing groups, Otef Yerushalayim and Regavim, which have been fighting to have the Bedouin communities built without permits evacuated in the area of Mishor Adumim said: “We welcome the Defense Ministry’s position to order the demolition of the structure, but this decision must be carried out. The prime minister must not give in to political pressure.”