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Trying to get to preschool in East Jerusalem

| November 12, 2012 | 0 Comments

In occupied Palestinian Territory, a group of preschool students must take two bus journeys and pass through an Israeli-controlled checkpoint that includes steel turnstiles and electronic detectors to reach the Comboni Convent preschool centre in East Jerusalem. The school is on the Jerusalem side of the Barrier but is cut off from the Palestinian village of Abu Dis, where its teachers and students live. The Barrier is a seven-metre high, solid cement and metal structure that Israel claims is needed for security reasons. Its existence inside the Palestinian Territory was declared illegal in an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice in 2004.

The artificial separation means that the journey to school has increased from 10 minutes to over an hour, as the accompanying teacher must take the children one-by-one through the detectors. The ordeal has had a negative effect on the school: in 2010, it had 56 pupils from the West Bank side of the Barrier. This year it has only seven.

Meanwhile, the new school year in Israel opened on a sombre note. The education minister instructed all high schools to conduct lessons around issues brought up by the brutal 16 August beating of 17-year-old Arab youth, Jamal Julani in Zion Square. It’s unclear, however, how successful teachers could be in encouraging tolerance and respect, as there are two separate school systems in Israel – one for Israelis, and one for Arabs.

Category: Summer 2012

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