Israeli sources reported that, last week, Israeli soldiers forced closure of a Palestinian elementary school in Khribit Jibna village, in the south Hebron hills, in the southern part of the West Bank, in order to replace it with a military base.Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported that the ‘Israel Civil Administration”, part of the Israeli military administration in the occupied Palestinian Territories, ordered the school demolished despite the fact that it is the only school in the area. The nearest school is now in Yatta village, more than twenty kilometers away.
In 1999, the Israeli army declared the area a closed military zone, and started using it as a training ground for soldiers after forcing the residents out.
The residents filed an appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court which issued a temporary injunction allowing the residents back to their village until a final verdict was reached. The case has remained at a standstill since then, although the Israeli authorities promised to make a final decision on the case within 30 days.
Representing the villagers, Israeli attorney, Shlomo Lecker, stated that the military orders and the order to demolish the school, “are serious and direct violations to the Supreme Court ruling”.
Lecker added that the army displaced the villagers, and that the main road that leads to the village was also declared a closed military zone as it also leads to the military base. This prevents the residents from entering their own village, and denies the children their right to basic education.
Dror Etkes, Peace Now Movement’s Settlement Watch Director, told Haaretz that three illegal settlement outposts in the area have recently expanded into the live fire military training zone, adding that the settlers are moving freely in the area without any restrictions imposed on them by the army.
The three illegal outposts are Avigail, Havat Ma’on and Mitzpeh Yair. Etkes told Haaretz that he has never heard of any military drill in this live-fire area that is being used by the settlers.
According to Haaretz, Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories stated that the Israeli Supreme Court will be hearing the petition against the army in the coming few days.