02/28/2014, 00.00
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Israel seizes a playground donated by Italy to a Bedouin school

Deemed illegal, the school is part of a settlement hit by dozens of demolition orders. Attended by 128 pupils, the facility was built without a permit, something that the authorities deny to all Bedouin settlements. Residents have turned to the High Court of Justice.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - Israel's Civil Administration yesterday seized playground material donated by the Italian Government to a school (pictured) in the Bedouin encampment of Khan al-Amar, east of Jerusalem. The settlement itself has received dozens of demolition orders.

An Italian Consular official accompanied the two lorries carrying construction material, a three-seat swing set, a slide with a tunnel and two ladders.

The children's excitement about the equipment was short-lived. Inspectors from Israel's Civil Administration seized the lorries and their contents because the installation was illegal. Italy's consular representative tried to overturn the decision.

Built in 2009, the school is an environmentally friendly structure made of mud and old tires that maintains an even temperature in the classrooms during both winter and summer.

Residents built it with European financial aid, inspired by an architectural approach that uses recycled materials easily obtainable by the poor.

The Khan al-Amar settlement, which is located on the road to Jericho, is home to the Jahalin tribe that Israel expelled from the Negev in the 1950s. Around 250 people have lived for decades in the camp, which is situated on land belonging to the village of Anata.

Like other Bedouin communities between East Jerusalem and Jericho, Israel's Civil Administration refuses to let Khan al-Amar residents build and connect to the infrastructure, on the grounds that the area does not have an approved master plan.

The school, which has 128 students mostly girls ages 6 to 13 years, was built without a permit. The Civil Administration has issued demolition orders against it and against dozens of other structures in the encampment.

The Jewish settlement of Kfar Adumim is only two kilometres from the site. In recent years, it has petitioned the High Court of Justice three times, demanding that the demolition orders be carried out.

The first two petitions were rejected, and last November, the settlement (and two of its neighbourhoods, Alon and Nofei Prat) filed another petition.

The Civil Administration did not respond to a request for comments.

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