Volunteers build Samra School August 2014At 6.30am on August 20th 2015, the Israeli army entered Khirbeit Samra in the north of the Jordan Valley with ten military jeeps and two bulldozers and destroyed Samra School. The school was built by Jordan Valley Solidarity and international volunteers, in co-operation with local Palestinians, in 2013/14 to provide Khirbeit Samra and the surrounding villages in the Beqaa area with a space where children could practice their right to education. Before the school was built, the children in these villages had to go by bus to a school 25 kilometres away in Ein el Beida; in the winter, heavy rains often washed out the roads making it impossible for the children to reach school. Today, the army demolished all four classrooms and the educational materials inside the school.

Samra school demolition 10Aug15 bSamra is part of the 95% of the Jordan Valley that is designated as Area C, where Israel does not allow Palestinians to build. The occupation also controls and extracts , which use 98% of the valley’s water.

However, in direct violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel continues to transfer its own civilian population to the Jordan Valley – and wider West Bank – in illegal settlements which are constantly expanding and taking Palestinian land. There are now a total of 37 illegal Israeli settlements in Jordan Valley. Samra is surrounded by four illegal settlements: Ro’i, Beqa’ot, Maskiyyot and Hamdat. Palestinian communities in Samra do not have access to the water or electricity networks provided to the illegal Israeli settlements in the area. Samra does not have electricity despite the cables just 100 metres away supplying electricity to the illegal settlements in the area; Palestinians also have to buy back their water that has been appropriated by Israel for 18 shekels per cubic metre.

Samra school demolition 10Aug15 cSamra is also situated between two Israeli military training grounds: Mzoqeh and Samra military training area. The army has before evicted the entire Palestinian community in Samra for days to conduct military training in the area with just five minutes’ notice. This is part of Israel’s ongoing efforts to harass the Palestinian population and make everyday life increasingly difficult in order to expel the Palestinian population from the area.

The school took two years to build in total; Israeli military forces also tried to stop its construction on several occasions, sometimes closing the road to disallow access to international volunteers, claiming that Palestinians are not allowed to build in the area. Despite international condemnation, and Israel’s claim to be working towards the Millenium Development Goals – including MDG 2, that children everywhere will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling – Israel is directly violating Palestinian children’s right to access education by destroying schools and educational materials, expelling populations to conduct military training and refusing to allow Palestinians to build in Area C.