Protecting children’s right to education in Hebron H2

11 May 2020
“We sometimes experience tear gas and shootings which doesn’t make me feel safe,” a student at the UNRWA Hebron H2 Boys’ School says, “I feel safe inside the school, but not all the time because of the occupation we are living under,” adds another student.

The students of UNRWA Hebron H2 Boys’ School have the same expectations to learn in a safe and secure school environment as any student elsewhere in the world. However, attending their local UNRWA school in the H2 area of Hebron, which remains under Israeli security control, raises challenges unlike anywhere else. Students have to deal with constant military presence, crossing military checkpoints and frequent military operations that involve the use of live ammunition, tear gas and sound bombs right outside their schools. Tear gas has entered the school many times as well. This photo essay tells the story of how students and staff at the school experience the coercive environment and how, thanks to EU humanitarian aid, UNRWA works to ameliorate the situation.

 

Protecting children’s right to education in Hebron H2

“The main challenge here is the security situation,” says Qusay Jabari, principal at the UNRWA Hebron H2 Boys’ School. “Making sure the boys can go to and from school safely is a challenge.”

 

Protecting children’s right to education in Hebron H2

“I live in the old city and need to pass through two checkpoints on my way to school,” says a 14-year old student, “I have agreed with two classmates to cross the checkpoints together to avoid harassment but sometimes they throw tear gas at us when we arrive. Sometimes, the army even closes the checkpoint so we cannot go to school. We have a right to education, we cannot allow that right to be taken away from us.”

 

Protecting children’s right to education in Hebron H2

“The support of the UNRWA Protection and Neutrality team has a great effect in providing a safe environment in the school. The regular contact and weekly visits help provide a safe, attractive and inclusive learning environment for the boys,” says Qusay. “The assistance provided enhances the commitment of the boys to come to school knowing they are well protected. The Protection and Neutrality Teams’ contact with the Israeli side for the sake of the school is something we cannot do ourselves.”

 

Protecting children’s right to education in Hebron H2

Staff members at the Protection and Neutrality Department at the UNRWA West Bank Field Office have been working closely with staff and students at the Hebron H2 Boys’ School in recent months after a sharp increase in the use of tear gas by Israeli military in the vicinity of the school. “Monitoring and being present gives you a better understanding of the huge challenges the school is facing. You become part of the school - what they feel, you will feel with them. Our consistent presence builds the trust and confidence of the staff. Hence, we are better able to document incidents and this, in turn, improves our interaction with the Israeli authorities in trying to prevent these incidents from reoccurring,” says Heidi, member of the Protection and Neutrality Team covering Hebron. “At the Israeli checkpoint 160 near the school, people have actually thanked us for being present there when their children are going to school and witnessing their daily challenges. That is best thanks one can get.”