The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has called on Israel to immediately cancel demolition orders for 57 Palestinian schools in the occupied West Bank, warning that over 6,550 students face the possibility of losing their access to education.
Among the schools under imminent threat of demolition are two located in the Bedouin communities of Ein Samiya, northeast of Ramallah, and Khashm al-Karm, southeast of Hebron. In response to continuous settler attacks and the anticipated demolition of the school in Ein Samiya, the entire community of 172 people, including 78 children, was forced to flee their homes on Tuesday.
Caroline Ort, the NRC’s country director for Palestine, emphasized the urgency of the situation, stating, “We urge Israel not to destroy schools and to cancel all demolition orders in the occupied West Bank immediately. When a school is demolished, it not only disrupts the learning of those students but also jeopardizes the future of their families, who may be forced to relocate their homes and livelihoods to ensure their children can continue their education.”
Ort highlighted the impact of the Israeli state and settler violence, property destruction, and the denial of basic services, which has already compelled three Palestinian communities to flee their homes in 2023 alone. Without concrete actions to hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law, the number of forcibly displaced Palestinians is likely to rise.
Last week, Israeli settlers established an outpost approximately 500 meters from Ein Samiya and launched sustained attacks on the entire community. Since March 2022, settlers have subjected the community to harassment and intimidation, including throwing rocks at Palestinian vehicles, vandalizing and stealing agricultural equipment, setting fire to farming land, uprooting crops, running over livestock, and blocking roads.
The West Bank Protection Consortium, led by the NRC, provides material and legal assistance to the Ein Samiya and Khashm al-Karm communities, including the construction of the two threatened schools. Building permits are nearly impossible to obtain under Israel’s discriminatory and unlawful planning regime, rendering the schools vulnerable to demolition. On May 7, Israeli authorities already destroyed a Consortium-funded school in the Jibb al-Deeb community, southeast of Bethlehem.
During a visit to the demolished school, NRC representatives witnessed the devastating impact on the children. Students expressed their distress over losing their school and belongings, as they were forced to relocate to makeshift tents that were later confiscated by Israeli authorities.
NRC emphasized that attacks on education and the destruction of schools must not be employed as a means to undermine the future of young Palestinians. The organization, alongside its partners, remains committed to providing support to those affected by these demolitions and continues to urge Israel to fulfill its obligations under international humanitarian law.