Two members of Friends of Hebron have just had the great privilege of visiting Hebron on Tuesday, 18 June, 2013.
We met with Hamed, representing our partner organisation, Hebron International Resource Network (HIRN). Hamed took us to visit the preschools at Umm Al Khair and Khashem Al Daraj, in the South Hebron Hills. Not only do residents of these vulnerable villages have to cope with a harsh, desert climate but they are located in Area C so subject to Israeli military and administrative controls.
The kindergarten at Umm Al Khair is bright and colorful but there is no outdoor play area. Israel’s intransigence means that any playground equipment provided is likely to be quickly demolished.
Nevertheless, as our photo shows, we have been able to provide a safe and happy building for the littlies to start their education. Unfortunately the village has ony a tent school because of the building restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities. [See this excellent article by Ruth Pollard in the SMH]
The kindergarten at Khashem al Daraj is also looking good and even has a playground, as this village has the advantage of being “on the masterplan”.
Finally, the news from Hebron city is only partly good. A house was been donated to provide preschool education for refugee children in the Tel Rumeida area. Wonderful work by volunteers over several weekends has cleared most of the accumulated rubbish from the yard. Since then, some settlers have painted hateful graffiti on the wall.
One of the volunteers was arrested as we visited, but we later heard he was released without charge. This tactic of arrest and release is a common method of harassment by the Israeli military in Hebron. Young men who try to make a positive contribution to their community seem to be targeted.