Is­raeli kin­der­garten raid ter­ri­fies Pales­tinian kids

The Miracle - - National & Int - Source: Al-Jazeera

Teach­ers and par­ents have de­cried a raid on a school by Is­raeli forces that re­sulted in the ar­rests of the school’s deputy prin­ci­pal and three teach­ers. Is­raeli po­lice en­tered the Zahwa al-Quds kin­der­garten and pri­mary school in the oc­cu­pied East Jerusalem neigh­bour­hood of Beit Han­ina on Mon­day and made the ar­rests be­cause staff re­fused to fol­low Is­rael’s ed­u­ca­tion stan­dard, ac­cord­ing to school staff. “Is­rael is at­tempt­ing to force our school to adopt the Is­raeli ed­u­ca­tion cur­ricu­lum,” Ziad al-Shamali, head of the school’s par­ent com­mit­tee, told Al Jazeera on Tues­day. “We are re­fus­ing this. So they de­cided to raid our school and scare our chil­dren.” Lo­cal teacher Ola Nini told Al Jazeera sev­eral un­armed and plain­clothed Is­raeli po­lice of­fi­cers and of­fi­cials from Is­rael’s Jerusalem mu­nic­i­pal­ity en­tered the school dur­ing the first class of the morn­ing. Zahwa al-Quds is a pri­vate school with about 90 stu­dents be­tween the ages of three and nine. Of­fi­cers searched all the class­rooms and de­manded the iden­tity cards of each teacher, Nini said, adding they then wrote down their names and made pho­to­copies of their IDs. Shamali said the of­fi­cers also con­fis­cated phones and deleted footage of the in­ci­dent on the school’s surveil­lance cam­eras. The stu­dents were so fright­ened that at least one child uri­nated on her­self, Nini added. “The of­fi­cers be­gan to ques­tion the stu­dents about the books they were read­ing and took pic­tures of the books,” Nini ex­plained. The of­fi­cers then made their way to the prin­ci­pal’s of­fice, broke in, and con­fis­cated teacher salaries and school papers in the draw­ers of the prin­ci­pal’s desk, she said. Dur­ing the raid, the school’s deputy prin­ci­pal and three teach­ers were taken into Is­raeli cus­tody. They were re­leased later on Mon­day. Rachel Greenspan, spokes­woman for the lo­cal gov­ern­ment, said the Jerusalem mu­nic­i­pal­ity was not in­volved in the in­ci­dent and de­nied there was a raid on the school. “There was a dis­pute be­tween the teach­ers and the prin­ci­pal re­gard­ing salaries,” she told Al Jazeera. An Is­raeli po­lice spokesper­son did not re­spond to Al Jazeera’s re­quest for com­ment. Mon­day was not the first time Zahwa al-Quds school was tar­geted by Is­raeli se­cu­rity forces. Ac­cord­ing to Nini, two armed Is­raeli po­lice of­fi­cers also stormed and searched the school in Septem­ber. The school re­ceived an Is­raeli per­mit when it was es­tab­lished about a year ago, ac­cord­ing to Shamali. How­ever in July, Is­rael al­legedly re­voked the li­cense af­ter staff re­fused to start teach­ing the Is­raeli cur­ricu­lum, forc­ing the school to ob­tain a Pales­tinian per­mit from the al-Waqf Is­lamic Trust. Shamali said Is­rael’s tar­get­ing of Zahwa al-Quds was part of its plan to co­erce Pales­tinian schools in East Jerusalem into teach­ing the Is­raeli cur­ricu­lum. “They don’t want any­thing Pales­tinian left. They want all of our schools to be for Is­raelis,” he said. “So they will keep mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for our chil­dren to learn.” Tah­seen Elayyan, head of the mon­i­tor­ing and doc­u­men­ta­tion depart­ment at the Pales­tinian hu­man rights NGO al-Haq, agreed say­ing there have been “con­stant at­tempts” by Is­rael to im­pose its ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem on Pales­tinian schools. Is­rael’s goal is “to sup­press the Pales­tinian nar­ra­tive, es­pe­cially since the cur­ricu­lum does not men­tion the atroc­i­ties com­mit­ted against Pales­tini­ans in 1948 and other his­tor­i­cal facts that are linked to Pales­tinian his­tory on this land”, Elayyan said. Shamali said Pales­tinian stu­dents have un­wit­tingly be­come vic­tims of Is­rael’s “vi­o­lent poli­cies” to­wards Pales­tinian schools in East Jerusalem. “These raids make the chil­dren scared to go to school,” he said, not­ing fam­i­lies are be­com­ing afraid to send their chil­dren to schools that teach the Pales­tinian cur­ricu­lum. “If chil­dren are see­ing po­lice raid their schools and ar­rest their teach­ers, they will think that school is a bad and un­safe place,” said Shamali. “They would never be­have like this in front of Is­raeli chil­dren.”

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