Occupied Territories

Demolitions at school in Abu Nawahr Jahalin Bedouin community

0 Comments 05 February 2018

Around 5 am yesterday morning (February 4 2018), Israeli forces arrived at the small Jahalin Bedouin community of Abu Nawahr in the outskirts of Jerusalem in the occupied territories and demolished two classrooms serving 3rd and 4th grade children. Rabbis for Human Rights’ volunteers together with Catholic nuns from the Comboni Order have organized summer camps at Abu Nawahr over the last few years.

Below please find the statement of Rabbis Yehiel Grenimann, director of organizational development at Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR), and Rabbi Jeremy Milgrom, an RHR board member, who visited the site and the distraught children following the demolition.

“Due to ‘a bureaucratic mix-up’, says Haaretz, the Israel army’s Civil Administration in the West Bank demolished two classrooms on Sunday that were used by children living in the Bedouin village of Abu Nawahr. Such “mix-ups” are suspiciously common in the West Bank, especially when extremist settlers lobby the army to take a hard-line attitude against Palestinian Bedouins including to demolish Bedouin communities. Our Jewish tradition obliges us to treat non-Jews equally and with empathy. Given the Israeli army’s demolition of this school and its ongoing threats of other demolitions in the Jahalin community, we cannot see how Israel’s current policy is even close to our moral aspiration.

The principle of equality before the law is grounded in the verses from the creation story in Genesis and again in the story of the flood in which we are taught that all human beings were created in God’s Image. Destruction of schools of one ethnic group while the other has highly subsidized education and standing illegal structures in the same area is a desecration of God’s name (Hillul HaShem), against both peoples common interest in coexistence in this Holy Land and against international humanitarian law.”

BRIEF BACKGROUND: The Jahalin Bedouin live in a number of encampments around the Maale Adumim settlement area outside Jerusalem, on the northern edge of the Judean Desert. They represent one of the most vulnerable groups living in the West Bank, and are plagued by extremely high rates of poverty and unemployment. The Jahalin also suffer under the constant threat of home demolition and forced displacement due to discriminatory building and planning policy as well as on-going pressure to expand nearby settlements. Already displaced from their ancestral lands in Tel Arad, the Jahalin have been forced to mostly abandon their agrarian/herding lifestyle for an urban one.

Press release from B’Tselem

Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann at the school where the demolitions occurred

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