Friends of Hebron is committed to advancing access to education for children and young people that live in Hebron and the South Hebron Hills. School children can be denied access to well-resourced and safe education due to the challenges imposed by the occupation, such as checkpoints, settler harassment and violence, attacks on schools and the demolition of school premises. In 2019, the General Assembly Security Council verified “118 incidents of interference with education in the Occupied Palestinian Territory by Israeli forces (113) and Israeli settlers (5), affecting 23,188 children. Among those were two verified incidents of the military use of a school by Israeli forces. More than half of verified interferences involved Israeli forces firing live ammunition, tear gas or sound grenades in and around schools, mostly in the context of clashes or military operations.”
Help us provide support for these critical projects in areas where schooling is severely impacted by the occupation. In 2019, the General Assembly Security Council verified “118 incidents of interference with education in the Occupied Palestinian Territory by Israeli forces (113) and Israeli settlers (5), affecting 23,188 children.”
Our 2019 Achievements
We’ve had a busy year supporting a number of projects.
In 2019 Friends of Hebron Sydney contributed to the cost of rebuilding a school in one of Hebron’s outlying villages. The school of Simya village was demolished three times by the Israeli Occupation Forces. Our partner organisation, Hebron International Resource Network (HIRN), raised funds to rebuild it on a new and safer site over the summer 2019. Thanks to your generosity last year, Friends of Hebron was able to make a significant contribution.
Currently, the beautiful school is hosting more than 20 students from 1st to 4th grade. In the meantime, HIRN have applied to the Irish Teacher’s Union for funding to establish a playground and a garden at the school and this work is in progress.
We continued to fund the Dkaika school access project, and returned to our first ever kindy (the Huda kindergarten in Umm al Khair) to provide wages for two early childhood teachers.
The Um Al Khair kindergarten (affectionately known as the Huda Kindergarten) was Friends of Hebron’s first project. In 2010 we raised funds for the rehabilitation of a structure into a school. At the beginning of 2019 we reconnected with the school and our fundraising currently goes towards the remuneration of two early childhood teachers.
The Umm Al Khair community places a high value on education but in 2009 more than 25 kindergarten-age boys and girls had no kindergarten to go to. According to the OCHA The refugee community of Umm Al Khair is considered one of the most vulnerable communities in the southern parts of Hebron Governorate as only a barbwire separates between it and the settlement of Karmel. A series of demolitions took place in 2006 and 2008 while a number of structures in the community have received Stop Work and demolition orders by the Israeli Civil Administration. At our 2010 Festival of Friendship, Friends of Hebron raised $5,000 to contribute to the rehabilitation of a building to house our first project. The kindergarten then opened in November 2010 and classes have been running ever since. In 2012 an artist from the UK decorated the building by painting beautiful, colourful and inspiring murals on its walls, a wonderful splash of colour in this desert landscape. More details here.
The Dkaika education access project provides safe school- transport for young learners as well as providing safe transport to a number of young women to attend university. Friends of Hebron have been supporting driver wages and vehicle costs since 2014 and fundraising continues to support this project.
Dkaika is a small village of approximately 320 people, with a growing population of school children. The school in Dkaika serves 51 students between the 1st and 6th grades. The school was demolished by Israeli forces on Jan, 11th, 2011, along with several other buildings in the remote community. Students travel outside the community for secondary education. At the end of the school year 2010-2011, there were 13 students in the 6th grade. On 2011 only 5 students progressed to secondary school due to the long distances students had to walk to reach their schools. The project has also been extended to drive the kindergarten students at Um Al Khair to school, which has been identified as a necessary measure to protect the children from settler harassment.
School in Hebron’s outlying villages
In 2019 Friends of Hebron Sydney supported the rebuilding of a school in one of Hebron’s outlying villages.
in 2018 Israel’s occupation forces demolished the school buildings then confiscated tents provided as substitute classrooms, along with all the equipment, even the blackboards and chalk. Children finished the school year in a small tent, erected every morning then taken down and hidden in a cave at night.
A piece of land with a small building in a more secluded location was donated for use as a school. Now the village has a school again, a villager who moved to the city has decided to return with his five school-age children. As our motto goes …. build and they will come.
In 2011 – 2012 Friends of Hebron Sydney raised funds for the building of a school in the South Hebron Hills.
The Bedouin community of Khashem Al Daraj is located at the most southern end of the West Bank. The basic infrastructure is very weak with a lot of services lacking, including adequate roads and scarce water quantities coupled with high unemployment and rising poverty. The community has a population of 650 Palestinian Bedouins living on herding as the main source of income. It has faced a number of Israeli restrictions including the demolition of 7 water cisterns in December 2010. Moreover, the community is surrounded by an area declared by the Israeli military as a “Firing Zone” to which access is not allowed. Friends of Hebron ran two fundraisers to contribute to the new building that was erected next to the old, dilapidated one-room school. The new structure has two classrooms and a staff room to accommodate the growing number of school children in the area. The community here is one of the most impoverished in the West Bank, and their lands are increasingly being threatened by military zone closures, expansion of settlements and threat of demolitions of surrounding villages. The psychological and physical pressures on these communities are great.
Friends of Hebron have had a long relationship with the Shuhada St kindergarten, starting in 2013 when funds were raised to rehabilitate a building into a school. Friends of Hebron covered the remuneration of three teachers from 2014 – 2018, and in 2019 the Hebron Municipality committed to funding teacher salaries.
In 2013 Friends of Hebron raised funds to support the renovations of a house, whose owners donated to be used as a kindergarten. In 2014 Friends of Hebron made a commitment to raise funds to cover the salaries of three teachers that work in the Tel Rumeida kindergarten as an ongoing project. The Old City of Hebron is an area of great tension as the settlements have grown inside the Palestinian community, causing severe restriction of movement for Palestinians, the rise of hostilities by settlers and ongoing harassment by soldiers. There are psychological pressures on the children of the area due to the presence of Israeli settlers and soldiers and currently there are four international organsiations based in the Old City to monitor human rights violations, to accompany the children to school and to monitor the checkpoints (TIPH, EAPPI, CPT, ISM).