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Action Against Hunger (ACF) is deeply concerned by the restriction of children’s right to education following the upsurge in violence in Gaza and the West Bank.
On World Education Day, we reiterate our call for respect for international humanitarian law and for an immediate and lasting ceasefire, the only measure that can protect children and guarantee their right to education.
While the education systems in Gaza and the West Bank suffered significant restrictions and damage long before the attacks following 7 October 2023, the last few months have been particularly deadly for children, and attacks on schools and restrictions on movements have prevented them from accessing the education to which they are entitled.
“Our teams in the West Bank have been working for years to guarantee children’s right to education, in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, because a safe and dignified education is essential to enable families to stay in their homes, to prevent displacements and to help break the cycles of violence and poverty. Guaranteeing access to education means guaranteeing a future for these children, which is why humanitarian organisations are supporting access to education for children in the West Bank and Gaza“, says Chiara Saccardi, Action Against Hunger’s Regional Operations Manager for the Middle East.
Since 2015, Action Against Hunger has supported more than 60 schools in the West Bank, including nurseries, to protect children and enable them to remain in their communities.
Palestinian children living in the West Bank have been struggling to attend school since well before October 2023. According to external sources, in 2023, 5,870 children from 117 communities in the West Bank were unable to attend primary school and a further 4,599 children had difficulty accessing education due to restrictions on movement, security checks and the harassment, intimidation and violence they continue to face on their way to school.
Since 7 October 2023, violence has intensified considerably: Israeli forces and settlers have killed 358 Palestinians, including 91 children, in the West Bank according to OCHA. Access to education was severely hampered, as evidenced by the burning and subsequent demolition by settlers of two classrooms in a school supported by Action Against Hunger partner organisations in Khirbet Zanuta at the end of 2023. A few weeks later, the population of neighbouring communities was forced to move and was rehoused, so their children could no longer benefit from access to education.
Before the conflict escalated, the right to education was already limited in Gaza. The lack of building materials prevented the construction of new educational infrastructures or the repair of those damaged by previous waves of hostilities. In addition, schools in Gaza were often closed to serve as emergency shelters for displaced persons.
Today, the right to education no longer exists in Gaza. Since 7 October 2023, more than 625,000 pupils and 22,564 teachers in Gaza have had no access to education, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. In addition, 76% of Gaza’s schools are damaged or destroyed, while 264 are being used as shelters for 1.4 million people displaced within the Gaza Strip, according to the Education Group.
These unprecedented levels of violence have exposed children of all ages to death, amputations, hunger, disease and extremely traumatic events such as the loss of their parents and close relatives. According to the Education Group, as of 23 January, 4,510 students and 231 teachers had been killed in Gaza.
Occupied Palestinian Territory
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