Ibziq: "Nothing will stop us educating our children"

On 23rd October 2018 occupation forces demolished part of Ibziq mixed community school. Our international volunteers went to the school, as soon as they heard about this attack on yet another local community. Here is their report. This morning, we received a call from Ibziq Mixed School, in the northern Jordan Valley, that the occupation forces were at the school. We, as international volunteers, immediately headed to the school with the Rashid, co-ordinator of Jordan Valley Solidarity.

After driving for 20 minutes on a rough dirt road, we arrived to learn that the army had left the school after demolishing a Portakabin-type structure which was being used for two extra classrooms. As we arrived, four children were being given a maths lesson in the open air by Raed, their teacher.

Ibziq School is on a hill outside the village which is located in Area C, near the Apartheid Wall. The village is denied water and electricity by the Israeli authorities. The main school building is 200 years old and was formerly a family home. Last year the family donated the building for use as a school. Currently, there are twenty-five pupils and four teachers - three female and one male.

The occupation army had been to the school the previous week, then issued two orders on 22nd October, just one day before the demolition, giving the village no time to seek legal support or appeal the orders. One document was a Stop Work Order and the other was a notice about building on archaeological sites. Today (23rd October 18), the Principal of the school, Faris Daragmeh, was alone with a driver outside the school buildings when about 50 soldiers from the Israeli Occupying Forces arrived with a bulldozer and a truck. Some of the soldiers were deployed to prevent pupils from attending the school and the rest supported the demolition gang. The soldiers were aggressive towards Faris and confiscated his mobile phone to prevent him from contacting the Ministry of Education in Ramallah.

A number of NGOs, under the umbrella of the European Union, funded the extension to the school. Its destruction is in clear breach of international human rights law which guarantees the right of all children to an education. The community, the Principal and the teachers at Ibziq School are resolute that reconstruction of this necessary extension will go ahead. They said: "We call on international governments and their NGOs to put pressure on the Israeli Occupation Forces to stop preventing our children from receiving an education."

Later in the day, there was a community meeting attended by the Mayor as well as the Director of Education, representatives from the PLO and Palestinian television at which there was unanimous agreement that the destruction of a replacement school extension should be resisted. Raed spoke for them all when he said: "Nothing will stop us educating our children. We will rebuild and resist, even if we are the last people left standing!"

23 October 2018.