WEST BANK (Dispatches) –
Zionist troops demolished a Palestinian elementary school near the city of Al-Khalil in the southern occupied West Bank on Wednesday.
Asafat, a boys’ and girls’ school, was demolished in Asafat al-Fawqa, one of the villages that make up the area of Masafer Yatta, whose Palestinian residents have long been threatened with eviction and demolition orders by Zionist regime authorities.
Footage taken by Israeli activist Itai Feitelson before the demolition show teachers helping young Palestinian students out of a classroom window, with Zionist troops standing outside.
Dozens of Zionist troops then cordoned off the area around the school, which stood on a hill, while a bulldozer flattened it. A photo published afterwards by Israeli rights group B’Tselem showed a pile of debris where the school once stood.
The Asafat school serves the Palestinian residents of Asafat al-Fawqa, Asafat al-Tahta, Maghayer al-Ubaid and Tuba.
The Palestinian Ministry of Education said the demolition was “a heinous crime”.
“These practices have become a flagrant violation of students’ right to safe and free education,” the ministry said, according to Wafa news agency.
The ministry said that dozens of Palestinian students in Masafer Yatta now had no school to attend.
The European Union delegation to the Palestinians tweeted that it was “appalled” by the school demolition and affirmed that Palestinian educational rights must be respected.
“Greatly alarmed by Israeli measures targeting humanitarian structures. Continued coercive measures threaten the existence of the Palestinian communities” in Masafer Yatta, the delegation wrote.
Wafa reported that Zionist troops confiscated the school’s stationery, tables and chairs before flattening the building.
The regime’s demolition of the Asafat school comes after a visit on Tuesday to Masafer Yatta by Palestinian officials and representatives of international and human rights groups, in solidarity with its Palestinian residents.
In August, the occupying regime’s so-called supreme court rejected an appeal from Palestinian residents of the area against the demolition of clinics, two schools and other buildings in the area.
The regime declared the 30-square-kilometre territory a restricted military area in the early 1980s, claiming it was uninhabited.
Masafer Yatta residents say many of the Palestinian families have been permanently residing in the area since before the regime illegally occupied the West Bank in the 1967 war.