This morning an Israeli jeep containing 4 Israeli soldiers invaded the school grounds of the Azzoun High School – contravening international law. Jeep #401 entered the school grounds at approximately 8:30am, at the end of the second lesson, driving through the school yard, all the way up to the steps of the main school building.
Three teachers and one administrator went to speak to the soldiers, requesting very politely that they leave. Soldiers replied that it was the teachers who should leave them alone – telling them to go back to their classrooms and stop interfering in the soldiers’ work, all the time pointing a gun at the teachers.
One teacher reported: “We said to him that there are rules that forbid you from entering a school”. The soldier said “For me there are no rules. I will come one time, two times, ten times, as many times as I want and no one can forbid me. If you forbid me, I will shoot you.”‘ Another teacher, reportedly asked the soldiers “What if we were soldiers and came to your schools?”, and was immediately threatened with arrest. The teachers told the soldiers that coming into the school would cause problems, asking “Do you want to cause problems?” to which the head soldier replied “Yes, I do.”
The teachers consider these actions to be provocations by the Israeli soldiers, which are common. Two weeks ago soldiers shot two sound bombs into the school, and regularly enter the village and wait outside the school to provoke the students as they are heading home for the day. These provocations in the past gave soldiers the excuse for imposing curfews on the village. They take on an even more sinister edge now that the Commander has advised villagers that students caught throwing rocks will be killed.
Azzoun school prinicpals claim that this is the first time a jeep has entered school grounds in the history of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The principal called the Qalqilia DCO, who seemed to not know about this invasion, and advised that they will find out what happened from the soldiers.
The teachers closed the doors to the main school building, leaving the soldiers in the school yard, where they waited and circled for ten minutes, before driving the jeep to block the entrance to the school. When teachers went down to close the main school gates, soldiers tried to stop them saying “You are forbidden to close the door to the school. Don’t close the door”. Teachers openly defied this order, closing the gate and saying “We will close the gate, you do what you do”. Since the incursion, the school gates have been fixed, so that no vehicle entry is possible, and strengthening them to prevent ram raids.
Teachers and principals advised that there was nothing in the village this morning to provoke such an action by the Israeli soldiers – indeed, a teacher on his way to school was stopped at the Azzoun gate on Tuesday 13th November by Israeli soldiers and told to inform the principal that Israeli soldiers would attack and enter the school – proving that it was premeditated. Rather, they consider these actions as part of a cynical strategy to garner High Court approval for a four kilometre wall to be built along the highway from Izbat Al Tabib to Kafr Laqif – a wall that will effectively seal the main gate of Azzoun forever and impede travel for Palestinians throughout the region – for which the markings already exist. “If they can present a big file, showing lots of trouble in Azzoun, then the High Court will grant them permission to build this wall.” said principal Majd. “We know the game they play.”