26 February 2015
AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Palestine team begins accompaniment of kindergarteners near Ibrahimi Mosque
The Red Crescent Kindergarten School is fully equipped for the four-year-old children who will begin their education: carpeted floors, multiple roomsfor playing and learning, as well as all the supplies needed to teach and entertain children. Most importantly, the school has caring teachers dedicated to their young pupils.
In 2000, the kindergarten had ten teachers and ninety students, but now only has three teachers and fifteen students. The school is in a particularly vulnerable location: immediately adjacent to the Ibrahimi Mosque and the Tomb of the Patriarchs, which is surrounded by Israeli Border Police. Due to constant soldier and settler harassment, parents in the nearby neighbourhoods are hesitant to send their children to the school. In response to this harassment and the effect it has had on the school children, the principal of the Red Crescent Kindergarten asked CPT to begin escorting the children to and from school.
One form of structural violence that the four-year-olds must face on their way to school is a divided path by the Ibrahimi Mosque. On one side of a tall fence is a wide, paved path for Israeli settlers, and on the other is a narrow, rocky path for Palestinians. Israeli Border Police have recently begun to deny these kindergarten students the right to walk on the “settler path.”
On 18 February, while CPTers were escorting the children to school, Israeli forces said that the children could not walk on the paved “settler” path. When CPTers challenged the new rule, the border police responded, “I don’t make the rules.” The children had to walk up the path littered with broken garbage and rubble in order to reach their school. This same struggle took place on the afternoon walk back home.
The Principal from the kindergarten came down and talked with the Border Police about their new decision. She demanded that the Border Police allow the children to walk on the side of the fence that is safer and not covered with garbage and sharp rocks. The arbitrary nature of the Border Police’s segregation rule became evident when, on the following day, the children were allowed to walk to and from school on the paved path.
The children have quickly warmed up to the CPTers and hold their hands while walking. The teachers remain steadfast in their commitment to their students and their right to walk on the safer path.