By Wissal Abu Alia & Shaden Al-Rimawi- PNN/ Jerusalem/
Zeina al-Batsh dreams of becoming a dentist. But it’s not always been easy for Zeina, who returns to school in the West Bank village of Jib al-Theeb this week to start a new year. In the past, children from her village struggled to walk from home to the nearest school, battling through difficult climatic and geographical conditions.
Before the construction of the village’s school, supported by the European Union, Zeina and her peers had to wake up very early each day to reach the school in the neighboring village. Today, the situation is different, but not perfect. “I’m frustrated because although we have a school in the village it is a long walk to my class, but we have a playground and games and my mother will pick us up in the winter,” she said.”
Zeina’s mother, Fatima, used to be very concerned about her daughter, and complained about the lack of basic potential in the region – in particular Zeina’s school. “I was always worried and I checked the hour at every moment, waiting for Zeina and her brother Zaid to return from school in the neighboring village,” she said.
“The situation is now different, they are close to me, but I have fears of some risks, such as the absence of a wall surrounding the school of the village, and the absence of suitable roof.
“The construction of a school in the area is an important step in alleviating the suffering of the parents, especially the parents of 52 students.” She also expressed concern that the Israeli occupation would destroy it again.
The school was in an unsafe place and not licensed, as it was in Area C. In 2017 the occupation authorities demolished the school, when it was composed just of a number of tents.
Residents, activists and the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) rebuilt it later that year. The Ministry of Education and Higher Education provided transportation for the students of Jib al-Theeb school and sought to repair the road to a school. But the occupation authorities confiscated bulldozers and equipment and obstructed their work.
Spokesman for the European Union in Palestine, Shadi Othman, told PNN that the Federation’s contribution to the people of the area of aid comes within the framework of the humanitarian aid project “Eco” and the European Commission. He said that the project has two tasks. The first concerns humanitarian aid: that although the occupying power “Israel” should ensure the basic needs of the population, while they do not do what is required under international law, the federation must ensure there is a third party to provide these needs, unhindered by the occupation. The second task is development assistance, which focuses on rural communities,, especially in area C.
Othman added that the European Union has recently given 120 million euros in development aid and 10 million euros in humanitarian aid. Most of the aid was allocated to water reservoirs, for example, in order to prevent the occupation of citizens from drilling artesian wells, as well as to connect houses to central water networks in addition to providing caravans for Bedouin communities.
The European Union also provides legal aid to raise cases in Israeli courts either directly or through the Palestinian Wall and Settlement Authority or through international humanitarian institutions.
The occupation has over the past three years destroyed EU projects worth 300 thousand euros. The EU has at times demanded Israel to compensate them or restore what was demolished. The EU provides this assistance to areas classified as C as part of its plan to maintain the Palestinian presence in this region and to help bring about a two-state solution.
Black-tinted and earth-skinned pride is proud of being ranked first in the “Challenge 5” school, a name that reflects the character of its students like Zeina, who are starting a new academic year, hoping for a better future.