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Ifølge Artikel 26 af FN’s Verdenserklæring om Menneskerettigheder har enhver har ret til undervisning. Palæstinensiske børns grundlæggende ret til uddannelse er dog under stadigt større pres.

I 2017 kunne den israelske avis Haaretz rapportere om flere razziaer på Vestbredden. Den israelske borgerlige administration havde konfiskeret trailere og uddannelsesudstyr fra humanitære organisationer, der skulle bruges som klasseværelser til 80 1.-4. klasses elever, som blev tvunget til at starte skoleåret på udsatte betonoverflader. Grænsepolitiet skulle desuden have konfiskeret en trailer i samme periode som havde til formål at huse et dusin børnehavebørn sammen med skolemøbler og henviste under konfiskeringen til manglende byggetilladelser.

Artikel 50 i fjerde Genève-konvention foreskriver:”Besættelsesmagten skal i samarbejde med de nationale og lokale myndigheder lette det nødvendige arbejde for alle institutioner, der beskæftiger sig med børns omsorg og uddannelse.”

Når det israelske militær konfiskerer og nedriver palæstinensiske skoler på Vestbredden kan det ifølge en rapport udarbejdet af Human Rights Watch udgøre krigsforbrydelser. følge både den fjerde Genève-konvention og Rom-statutten, der grundlægger Den Internationale Straffedomstol i Haag, defineres ulovlig ødelæggelse af ejendom som krigsforbrydelser. Ifølge Human Rights Watch kan Israels praksis med nedrivning af skoler tvinge palæstinenserne til at forlade deres lokalsamfund og således indirekte forårsage en tvangsforflyttelse af civile inden for besat område – hvilket i Rom-statutten udgør en forbrydelse mod menneskeheden ifølge artikel 7, stk. 1(d).

Den Europæiske Union udgør én af de større donorer af skoleprojekter i område C på den besatte Vestbred. Det skønnes, at Israel mellem 2001 og 2016 har ødelagt EU-finansierede skolestrukturer til en værdi af $74 millioner, herunder $26 millioner i ejendomsskade under Israels angreb på Gaza i 2014. Ifølge den palæstinensiske menneskerettighedsorganisation Al-Haq, har europæiske donorer i stedet for at stille Israel til ansvar, udtrykt modvilje i forhold til at finansiere yderligere bistandsprojekter uden garantier fra Israel. Lande, der sponsorerer mange af de skolestrukturer, der er nedrevet af den israelske hær, har imidlertid ret til at kræve, at de israelske myndigheder stilles til ansvar.

Ifølge data fra FN, der for nylig blev refereret til i en rapport af Human Rights Watch, har mere end en tredjedel af de palæstinensiske samfund i område C på Vestbanken ingen grundskole, og 10.000 børn bliver undervist i skrøbelige strukturer som telte eller skure uden aircondition eller opvarmning. FN kunne desuden i 2015 rapportere, at ca. 1.700 børn måtte gå fem kilometer eller mere for at komme i skole, hvilket fik nogle familier til at trække deres børn helt ud af skolesystemet – noget der alvorligt påvirkede pigers adgang til uddannelse.

Børns ret til undervisning er imidlertid ikke kun undermineret, fordi Israel konfiskerer og nedriver palæstinensiske skoler, herunder skoler, der er finansieret af humanitær bistand fra bl.a. EU.

I Gaza har FN’s Kontor for Koordinering af Humanitære Anliggender, OCHA oPt, identificeret adskillige faktorer, som er med til at undergrave palæstinensiske børns adgang til uddannelse. Det største problem var manglen på ordentlig infrastruktur – overfyldte klasselokaler skulle udgøre en af de største hindringer for børnenes evne til at koncentrere sig i undervisningen. Undervisningsministeriet rapporterede, at der alene i børnehave-systemet er ca. 66.150 børn, fordelt ud over 683 børnehaver. Fattigdom er en anden faktor, som har en negativ indvirkning på elevernes deltagelse.

FNs Hjælpe-agentur for Palæstinensiske Flygtninge, UNRWA, står for uddannelsen af over en halv million palæstinensiske børn. I erkendelsen af at uddannelse er af afgørende betydning for at hjælpe hvert barn med at opnå sit fulde potentiale, har UNRWA i over 60 år arbejdet for at sikre, at alle palæstinensiske flygtningebørn har adgang til kvalitetsuddannelse. Flere års underfinansiering har i Gaza resulteret i et overbelastet uddannelsessystem, hvor 94% af skolerne opererer med en dobbelt-ordning, der helt konkret betyder, at hver skole er vært for én gruppe elever om morgenen og en anden om eftermiddagen.

Fra begyndelsen af 2018, står Agenturet desuden over for et massivt underskud, da hoved-donoren USA har reduceret sit sponsorat ganske betydeligt. Dertil kommer, at antallet af studerende i Gaza er steget med intet mindre end 10.000 siden skoleåret 2016/17. For fortsat at kunne sikre grunduddannelse til UNRWA-flygtningebørn, er det således af afgørende betydning for Agenturet at få skaffet flere ressourcer til sikring af bl.a. infrastruktur, vand, sanitet og elforsyning.

Bl.a. via Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke og Danish Muslim aid kan man afhjælpe den humanitære katastrofe i Gaza, som vi har været inde på i forbindelse med palæstinensernes mangel på fri bevægelighed.

Kilder:

  1. “Israel: Army Demolishing West Bank Schools”, Human Rights Watch, 25 April 2018, tilgængelig her.
  2. “Israel ‘drastically escalates’ destruction of EU-funded energy projects”, by Tamara Nassar, The Electronic Intifada, 26 March 2018, tilgængelig her.
  3. Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (last amended 2010), UN General Assembly, 17 July 1998,, tilgængelig her.
  4. Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949, tilgængelig her.
  5. “Education undermined by deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza’, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Occupied Palestinian Territory, April 2018, tilgængelig her.
  6. “Education in the Gaza Strip”, UN Relief and Work Agency for Palestinian Refugees, tilgængelig her.

Se desuden:

  1. “Palestinians Protest Israeli Closure of West Bank School Near Nablus“, The Jerusalem Post, 16 October 2018, tilgængelig her.
  2. “Jabal al-Baba update: ethnic cleansing on Vatican land”, Mondoweiss, 10 August 2018, tilgængelig her.

  

Even as they tear down the schools of my children

 

In accordance with Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to education. Yet, Palestinian children’s fundamental right to education is under growing threat.  

In 2017, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported the case of several raids in the West Bank: the Israeli Civil Administration had confiscated trailers and education equipment provided by humanitarian organizations to be used as classrooms for 80 first to fourth grade students, who were forced to start the school year studying on exposed, concrete surfaces. The Border Police reportedly confiscated a trailer in the same period meant to house a dozen kindergarten children, along with school furniture, citing the lack of building permits.

Article 50 of the Fourth Geneva Convention stipulates that the “Occupying Power shall, with the cooperation of national and local authorities, facilitate the proper working of all institutions devoted to the care and education of children”.

According to a report compiled by Human Rights Watch, the fact that the Israeli army is demolishing Palestinian schools in the West Bank may constitute war crimes. Both the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court deem unlawful destruction of property as war crimes. Additionally, as Human Rights Watch argue, forcing Palestinians to leave their communities due to school demolitions can amount to an indirect forcible transfer of civilians within an occupied territory – which is also a breach of international law, as stipulated by the Rome Statute in article 7, para. 1(d).

The European Union is a major donor funding school projects in Area C on the occupied West Bank; it is estimated that between 2001 and 2016, Israel has destroyed EU-funded school structures worth $74 million, including $26 million in damage to property during Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2014. According to the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq, instead of holding Israel accountable, “European donors have expressed reluctance in funding aid projects without guarantees from Israel.” Countries sponsoring many of the school structures demolished by the Israeli army are however entitled to demand accountability from Israeli officials.

According to UN data cited by a recent Human Rights Watch report, more than a third of Palestinian communities in Area C lack primary school and 10,000 children are forced to attend classes in feeble structures such as tents or shacks, lacking air-conditioning or heating. The UN reported in 2015 that approximately 1,700 children had to walk five kilometers or more to get to school, which led some families to withdraw their children from the school system altogether, and severely impacted girls’ access to education.

Palestinian children’s right to education are thus not only undermined by Israeli authorities’ confiscation and demolition of schools, including schools financed by humanitarian aid from, inter alia, the European Union.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA oPt, reported several factors that undermine education in Gaza; the main factor being lack of proper infrastructure to accommodate the educational needs of a rising number of Palestinian refugee children. Overcrowded classrooms has the biggest impact on children’s ability to focus on their studies. Poverty is another factor that has a negative impact on students’ attendance.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, UNRWA, provide education for over half a million Palestinian children. Recognizing that education is fundamental to helping each child achieve his or her full potential, UNRWA has worked for over 60 years to ensure that all Palestine refugee children have access to quality education. According to the Agency, years of underfunding have left the education system in Gaza overstretched, with 94 % of schools operating on a double-shift basis, hosting one ‘school’ of students in the morning and a different group in the afternoon.

Additionally, at the beginning of 2018 UNRWA is facing a serious deficit since its main donor, the USA, has significantly reduced its sponsorship. To make matters worse, as of 2018, the number of students in Gaza has increased with no less than 10,000 since the school year 2016/17. Resources are thus paramount to continue to secure basic education, such as infrastructure, water, sanitation and electricity supplies.

Through e.g. ActionAid Denmark and Danish Muslim aid, it is possible to make donations to alleviate the humanitarian catastrophe, which we have touched upon in the account on Palestinians’ lack of freedom of movement.

Sources:

  1. “Israel: Army Demolishing West Bank Schools”, Human Rights Watch, 25 April 2018, available here.
  2. Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (last amended 2010), UN General Assembly, 17 July 1998,, available here.
  3. “Israel ‘drastically escalates’ destruction of EU-funded energy projects”, by Tamara Nassar, The Electronic Intifada, 26 March 2018, available here.
  4. Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949, available here.
  5. “Education undermined by deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza’, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Occupied Palestinian Territory, April 2018, available here.
  6. “Education in the Gaza Strip”, UN Relief and Work Agency for Palestinian Refugees, available here.

See also:

  1. “Palestinians Protest Israeli Closure of West Bank School Near Nablus“, The Jerusalem Post, 16 October 2018, available here.
  2. “Jabal al-Baba update: ethnic cleansing on Vatican land”, Mondoweiss, 10 August 2018, available here.