Israeli Civil Administration officials and security forces on Monday demolished a temporary structure built without a permit that was to house a kindergarten in a Jerusalem-area Bedouin village.
The room, built of wood and metal paneling in the Bedouin village of Jabal al-Baba adjacent to al-Azariya, in the West Bank and just east of Jerusalem, was slated to open next month as a schoolroom for 25 four- to six-year-olds.
According to a statement from Israeli rights group B’Tselem, the kindergarten was to be the primary childcare facility for some two dozen Palestinian families from the Bedouin encampment at the site who otherwise have no access to either the Israeli or Palestinian education systems.
A picture of the demolition order circulated by B’Tselem showed the official reason for the demolition was the listing of the structure as “illegal construction,” meaning that it was built without a permit from Israeli authorities.
In a statement, the group said the Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration also confiscated classroom equipment including desks, chairs, cabinets and blackboards worth some NIS 10,000 ($2,765).
A number of traditionally nomadic Bedouin communities are based in the hills east of Jerusalem. Activists have long criticized Israel for neglecting their development needs and seeking to move them from sprawling encampments to urban residential areas. Palestinians fear this is to enable the expansion of settlements in the area, which could further isolate the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem from other Palestinian population centers.