Rights group: Israel demolishes school in West Bank hamlet

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JERUSALEM (TBEN) — The Israeli army demolished a school in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, an Israeli rights group said, following a court ruling earlier this year that upheld a long-standing eviction order for eight Palestinian hamlets in the area.

B’Tselem, the rights group, said schoolchildren were in classrooms when soldiers arrived for the demolition. Video provided by the group showed a bulldozer knocking down the single-story structure as soldiers stood guard nearby.

The Israeli military had no direct comment.

Israel’s Supreme Court ruled in May against the families in the area, known as Masafer Yatta, paving the way for the possible displacement of at least 1,000 people. Human rights groups say Israel has gradually demolished buildings in the area since the ruling, with the school being demolished last.

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The army declared the area a shooting and training area in the early 1980s. The Israeli authorities have argued that the residents only used the area for seasonal farming and had no permanent buildings there at the time. According to human rights organizations, in November 1999 security forces drove out some 700 villagers and destroyed houses and water reservoirs. The legal battle began the following year.

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In its ruling in May, the Supreme Court sided with the state, saying villagers had rejected a compromise that would have allowed them to enter the area at certain times and farm for part of the year.

The families say they have been around for decades, long before Israel conquered the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East War. They practice a traditional form of desert farming and animal herding, and some live in the desert at least part of the year. caves, but say their only homes are in the hardscrabble communities that are now at risk of being demolished.

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The West Bank has been under Israeli military rule for 55 years. Masafer Yatta is located in the 60% of the area where the Palestinian Authority is not allowed to operate. The Palestinians want the West Bank to be the most important part of their future state.

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