Anata secondary school in East Jerusalem has been experiencing daily incursions by Israeli forces, as the Israeli Annexation Wall runs through the middle of the schoolyard.
Israeli soldiers arrived en masse at the school on Wednesday the 12th of April, just as students took their morning break. The headmaster was forced to shut the school after students and staff were subjected to rounds of rubber bullets, sound bombs and large volumes of tear gas.
In the most recent attack on Wednesday, at 10:40 am students began their morning break in the schoolyard, which has been split in half by the Israeli Annexation Wall for several months. Four military jeeps came towards the school and stationed in front of the perimeter, threatening the students with their sirens. Shortly after, Occupation Soldiers launched sound bombs into the crowd of students.
To defend themselves from the attacks – which have become a regular feature of school life in Anata – children pelted the Soldiers with stones. Escalating their violence, Soldiers unleashed a flurry of rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowd and then fired into the school. Administrative staff later collected over a dozen tear gas canisters just from the school building. The gas was so intense that breathing within the school halls became impossible, leading to suspension of classes for the rest of the day.
This attack at the school follows another severe assault that took place the preceding Sunday. That time, however, teachers and students managed to continue classes in defiance of the gas and harassment by the Soldiers.
The school in Anata has experienced the harshest conditions of Occupation since the beginning of this year when the Israeli Annexation Wall was constructed right through the courtyard. Moreover, daily attacks by the soldiers and harassment by private guards stationed at the Wall, has made life and education a hellish experience for students and staff. Approximately half of the students have already undergone arrest or detention by Occupation Forces, whilst Palestinian families live in constant fear for their children.
The Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign stated in a report on Anata, "Both the school and the wider community in Anata have so far resisted the unbearable conditions by which the Occupation hopes to expel them from the education facilities. However, it is not just the school, but all Palestinian existence in Anata which is under threat. The village is to be encircled from three sides by the Apartheid Wall, while the settler road that links the Jerusalem settlements to the E1 block and the Jordan Valley cuts off the fourth side. The Wall itself will be 10 km long here and isolates 32,000 dunums of Anata’s lands. Already deprived of access to workplaces and vital services in Jerusalem, the Occupation wants to deprive the 15,000 villagers of their schools and social institutions."