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The protracted conflict and the occupation have compromised the access to education in the occupied Palestinian territory. In the West Bank, access to education is undermined due to the detention of children, military operations and settler-related incidents; the shortage of physical infrastructure due to building restrictions in Area C and East Jerusalem; and movement restrictions such as the checkpoints and the Barrier. In the Gaza Strip, armed conflict and the resulting damage and destruction of facilities, the Israeli Blockade, and the internal Palestinian divide, have severely disrupted services, including the ability to conduct regular educational activities. Combined with their negative psychosocial effects, these factors have affected student wellbeing, performance and completion rates.
Articles, statements and press releases
Following a wave of Palestinian attacks, including suicide bombings, Israel began building a Barrier in 2002 with the stated aim of preventing such attacks. The Barrier’s deviation from the Israeli-declared municipal boundary of Jerusalem has resulted in some Palestinian localities in East Jerusalem, especially Kafr Aqab and Shufat camp area, becoming separated from the urban centre. Although residents retain their permanent residency status and continue to pay municipal taxes, these areas have effectively been abandoned by the municipality.
The restrictive planning regime applied in Area C, which comprises over 60 per cent of the West Bank and where Israel retains near exclusive control, makes it virtually impossible for Palestinians to obtain building permits. This prevents them from developing basic services in their communities, including education. Over a third of the residential areas in Area C (189 out of 532) lack a primary school and children are forced to travel long distances, sometimes on foot, to reach the nearest school.
In January 1997, Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) signed the Protocol Concerning the Redeployment in Hebron. In the agreement, Israel handed over control of 80 per cent of Hebron city (18 km² known as H1) to the Palestinian Authority, while keeping full control over the remaining 20 per cent (known as H2). H2 includes four Israeli settlement compounds, home to a few hundred Israeli settlers and a population of over 40,000 Palestinians.
In the Gaza Strip, recurrent conflict and the ensuing damage and destruction of educational facilities have led to disruption in services and impacted the psychosocial well-being of children and teachers. Two years after the end of the most recent escalation in 2014, all 252 damaged schools have been repaired, but reconstruction of six of the seven totally destroyed schools is still incomplete. Nine years of blockade have compounded the impact of hostilities. Schools are overcrowded and their facilities are often used in double shifts, resulting in fewer instructional hours on core subjects and foundational learning, student difficulties in focusing on their studies and heightened levels of violence in schools. At least 20 new schools need to be built in Gaza each year to keep pace with population growth, but only 20 new schools have been built over the past eight years (all in 2013).
A statement delivered by David Carden, Head OCHA oPt, on the occasion of the opening of the school year in Khan al Ahmar, a Palestinian community at risk of forcible transfer.
Amid heightened violence in late 2015, the number of Palestinian children detained by the Israeli authorities spiked to the highest figure since March 2009: at the end of December, 428 Palestinian children were in the Israeli prison system. Some 80 per cent of these children were in pre-trial detention, the majority of them facing charges of throwing stones.