Israel demolishes schools for Palestinians, citing lack of permits

Children, including Jana Zawahra (front left), stand in line near the remains of their school east of Bethlehem.

Jub El-Thib (CNN)Jana Zawahra sits outside a large tent, sobbing to herself on the ground where her school once stood.

The brand-new building, paid for by the European Union, was constructed just three weeks ago. Now, little more than the concrete floor and an outhouse remain.
"It doesn't look nice anymore, it's ugly," the eight-year-old says, devastated at the loss of her classroom at Jub El-Thib, east of Bethlehem.
    Jana Zawahra (c) attends class in a tent after her school was demolished in Jub El-Thib.
    She and her classmates -- 64 children from the first to the fourth grade -- had only been back in class for three days when Israeli forces arrived to demolish the school, which Israel says was built illegally.
      Now they've been left with only a tent to shelter from the searing heat of the August sun -- and no tables to sit and study at.
      "Just when they were due to return to the classroom, Palestinian children are discovering that their schools are being destroyed," said Hanibal Abiy Worku, a director of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
      "What threat do these schools pose to the Israeli authorities? What are they planning to achieve by denying thousands of children their fundamental right to education?"
        The makeshift tent-school in Jub-El-Thib has chairs but no tables.
        According to the NRC, three educational facilities for Palestinian children in the West Bank have been demolished or damaged by Israeli authorities in the past two weeks.
        A kindergarten for the Bedouin community of Jabal Al Baba was torn down, and a primary school in Abu Nuwar had its solar panels -- the only source of power at the school -- dismantled and taken away, the NRC says.
        The body that looks after civil administration in those parts of the West Bank still totally controlled by Israel -- designated as Area C -- is known here by its acronym, COGAT; it stands for Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.
        Children in their school uniforms run towards school.
        COGAT says all the demolished structures were illegal and that the demolitions were carried out lawfully.
        In a statement to CNN, COGAT said: "The building in Jub El-Thib was built illegally last weekend, a blatant violation of 'stop work' orders, and without receiving the required permits. Therefore, the confiscation was carried out in accordance with the Civil Administration authorities."
        The European Union says about 100 structures -- homes, shelters, water networks, as well as schools -- in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, for which the EU or EU member states have provided funding, have been demolished or seized over the past year.
        Mothers and teachers sit outside the tent in Jub El-Thib.