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 2016, the General Assemble Security Council noted 283 incidents relating to education, including 96 cases of schools coming under fire during military-led operations and clashes, 46 attacks and threats of violence against students and teachers by Israeli security forces and settlers, and 62 instances of interference with education owing to the closure of schools or the arrest and detention of staff and students.
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 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.
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).
In 2014 Friends of Hebron made a commitment to raise funds to cover the salary of a driver and the fuel for a vehicle to transport young learners to school, as well as provide safe transport to a number of young women to attend university. 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.