Report from Palestine: The long, rough road to school

Cassandra Dixon of WNPJ member group Mary House reports from Palestine:

Friends, greetings from Tuwani, where it is now hot and sunny every day.

For much  of the school year internationals working inTuwani have been accompanying a driver from Tuwani who picks up children who attend AlFakheit school, south of Tuwani.  
 

Al-Fakheit school opened this year to accommodate students living in Maghayir Al-Abeed, Markaz, Halawe, Fakheit, Majaaz, and Jinba.  Previously, children from these hamlets attended school in Yatta, which required that they live in the city Sunday through Thursday.  Now the teachers at Al-Fakheit school travel from Yatta each day and pick up schoolchildren along the route.

Last December Israeli soldiers confiscated and destroyed  the four wheel drive  vehicle the villagers were using, to make the trip.  The driver was held for several hours, and the children and teachers had to make the trip home on foot in the hot sun.  Villagers were able to replace the vehicle with a battered truck with metal box in which the children now ride.  The trip can take as long as two hours over an absolutely terrible road.   The Israeli military  patrols the road, often stopping Palestinians who use the road to cross into Israel to find work.  Teachers and school children traveling to Al-Fakheit are sometimes stopped and searched by the Israeli military.

In August of last year the Israeli military attempted to dismantle the road with heavy machinery.  They created mounds of earth and rocks, which drivers must now go around.   The terrain is extremely hilly, and at several points along the journey to school it seems as if the  truck will roll down a hillside. For many years Israel has prohibited Palestinians from making repairs or improvements to the road - in fact Israel has marked the road as a walking and hiking route.

Nonetheless it remains the only route available for school children in the area.  It feels completely insane to bounce over the road with 15 children rattling around in the back, wondering how many times the truck will break down and need water or a tire replaced that day -- The kids are all young, third grade and under, which is lucky as they would not fit if they were older!  
 

I hope spring is arriving happily for you all!! warm wishes, cassandra
 

Link to photos   http://www.flickr.com/photos/22236486@N06/

For more  pictures of the Al-Fakheit school: http://cpt.org/gallery/School-in-Al-Fakheit

For pictures of the army dismantling the road: http://cpt.org/gallery/roadblock-on-road-to-Jinba

For background information about the communities of Msafer Yatta, download report of the Israeli human rights group B’tselem: http://www.btselem.org/Download/200507_South_Mount_Hebron_Eng.pdf


Cassandra's earlier reports.