Photo Credit: courtesy, Regavim via Twitter
Illegal school construction by Palestinian Authority with European Union funding in eastern Gush Etzion, Area C, August 2020

While the coronavirus crisis continues is in full swing and the plan for opening the school year is still unclear, the Regavim NGO is warning the Palestinian Authority is preparing to establish a new, illegal school in eastern Gush Etzion, with the intention of staffing it within the next few weeks.

The school was built with the help of financial support from the European Union and is located near the Jewish communities of Ivi Hanahal and Ma’ale Amos.

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According to Regavim, work on this latest illegal endeavor is being carried out in double shifts employing dozens of workers, with the intention of staffing the building in time for the opening of the Palestinian Authority school year on September 6. There are more land reserves in a nearby Arab village according to an unfulfilled construction plan.

Establishment of schools serve as a strategic tool for the Palestinian Authority which then sets them up outposts in Area C; in many cases work doesn’t stop prior to occupancy of the buildings, thus presenting the State of Israel with a fait accompli.

Once the building is occupied, a long, drawn-out legal “war of attrition” begins and continues for many years, during which time the campus becomes a permanent compound against which law enforcement authorities are reluctant to enforce the law.

Repeated pattern of action: The Lesson of Khan al-Ahmar
“If this story sounds familiar to you, don’t be surprised. The most familiar example of this strategy took place at Khan al-Ahmar, when the state once again rejected taking action to enforce the law ‘until the end of the school year’ and finally attrition won, and the outpost today stands, despite the Supreme Court ruling,” Regavim lamented. “It has happened at the school established in the Makkukh River Nature Reserve north of Jerusalem, at the school established overnight near the Herodium, and in many other outposts.”

The schools now being built as outposts of the Palestinian Authority are causing a fundamental change in Area C, Regavim warned.

For this reason, the group wrote another letter to Defense Minister Benny Gantz, the Commander-in-Chief of the Central Command, the Civil Administration and the Israel Police, demanding that construction be stopped immediately, while in its early stages.

“If the appeal is not answered in the coming days, we will immediately appeal to the court,” a Regavim spokesperson said.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.