Israel to auction classrooms donated by EU to Palestinian children

A Palestinian boy sits on a chair with a national flag as Israeli authorities demolish a school site in the village of Yatta, south of the West Bank city of Hebron. (File/AFP)
Updated 01 June 2019

Israel to auction classrooms donated by EU to Palestinian children

  • Israel’s defence ministry plans to auction 2 prefabricated classrooms that were donated to Palestinian schoolchildren by the EU
  • Occupation forces tore down and confiscated the classrooms in October last year

LONDON: Israel is set to auction off classrooms it seized from the occupied West Bank last year, according to a report in UK newspaper the Guardian citing an advertisement that ran in the Israeli newspaper Maariv.
The auction is due to be held next week and will take place in the offices of the Civil Administration, which tore down and confiscated the classrooms last October.
They had been intended for 49 students, in grades one to six, in Ibziq, in the northern occupied West Bank.
After the classrooms were dismantled, the EU mission to Jerusalem and Ramallah condemned Israeli authorities and called on them to rebuild the structures in the same place “without delay”.
The statement said at the time: “Every child has the right to access education and states have an obligation to protect, respect and fulfil this right, by ensuring that schools are inviolable safe spaces for children.
“The EU calls upon the Israeli authorities to halt demolitions and confiscations of Palestinian houses and property, in accordance with its obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law.”
The Civil Administration did not follow the EU mission’s advice and rebuild the classrooms and the agency saw the opportunity to sell the materials confiscated from Palestinian children. 
The Guardian said it had seen a list of the auction items, which showed dates, item numbers, locations and descriptions that matched the confiscated classroom structures. 
“The sale also appeared to include material confiscated from Palestinians and Israeli settlers who built without authorization,” the Guardian reported.
The Civil Administration, the Israeli body which governs the occupied West Bank, did not comment on the upcoming sale.
The Israeli military refuses to permit most new Palestinian construction in the 60 percent of the West Bank where it has exclusive control over planning and building, even as the military facilitates settler construction. 
According to Human Rights Watch, “the military has enforced this discriminatory system by razing thousands of Palestinian properties, including schools, creating pressure on Palestinians to leave their communities. When Israeli authorities have demolished schools, they have not taken steps to ensure that children in the area have access to schools of at least the same quality.”

Turkish police arrest journalist Altan a week after his release

Updated 43 min 42 sec ago

Turkish police arrest journalist Altan a week after his release

  • Altan and the others deny the charges against them
  • On Tuesday a higher court overruled the decision to release Altan, ordering his arrest on grounds that there was a risk of him fleeing

ISTANBUL: Turkish police detained prominent journalist and author Ahmet Altan late on Tuesday, a week after he was released from prison in his retrial on coup-related charges, Istanbul police said.

Before his release last Monday, the 69-year-old had been in jail since his arrest in 2016, two months after an attempted coup which Ankara says was orchestrated by the network of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

The journalist’s case has drawn criticism from human rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies. They are concerned by the scale of a post-coup crackdown against suspected Gulen supporters under President Tayyip Erdogan.

Altan smiled and waved as he was driven away by counter-terror squad police officers after being taken from his home in Istanbul, video and photos published by Turkish media showed.

He was taken to Istanbul police headquarters after a hospital check-up, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.

Altan, his brother and other journalists were previously sentenced to life in jail for aiding Gulen’s network. Last week he was convicted again in a retrial, but released from jail given the time served.

Altan and the others deny the charges against them.

On Tuesday a higher court overruled the decision to release Altan, ordering his arrest on grounds that there was a risk of him fleeing, Anadolu reported.

Under last week’s verdict, Altan was sentenced to 10 years and six months in jail. Turkey’s high court had overruled the previous life sentences against him in July, sending the file back for re-trial.

Erdogan’s government has jailed more than 77,000 people pending trial since the failed putsch. Widespread arrests are still routine in a crackdown critics say demonstrates growing autocracy in Turkey.

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, and his followers deny any involvement in the coup. Turkey has repeatedly called on the United States to extradite the cleric.