10 January 2023
Representatives of six trade unions representing education workers in schools and universities in Ireland and the UK have today issued a statement condemning the injustices and dangers faced by Palestinian school children.
The unions have called on the Israeli authorities to halt the demolition of schools in the West Bank and take action to prevent further killings and attacks on children by Israeli armed forces and settlers.
The statement reads:
"As trade unions representing teachers and educators in Britain and Ireland, we express our solidarity with children and young people in Palestine and their families and condemn the ongoing attacks on children's right to education and on their right to life.
"We call on the Israeli authorities to immediately halt the demolition of schools in the West Bank and take action to prevent further killings and attacks on children by Israeli armed forces and settlers.
"On 23 November 2022 Israeli forces demolished a primary school in Isfey Al-Fouqa, Masafer Yatta, attended by 22 students from neighbouring communities in the occupied West Bank. Isfey Al Fauqa is one of 13 herding communities in Masafer Yatta located in an area designated by the Israeli military as a 'Firing Zone 918', home to around 1,150 Palestinians, half of whom are children.
"Students who can no longer attend the school in Isfey Al-Fouqa will attend Al- Majaz school in the interim. A demolition order for Al-Majaz is imminent.
"We note that Israel has also issued demolition orders for the school in Khirbet al-Fakhit and for the schools in the neighbouring communities of Khirbet Jenbah, Khirbet al-Majaz and Khallet a-Dabe', in which 44 teachers teach a total of 172 children.
"The Israeli government has also begun confiscating vehicles in the area, making movement difficult and creating further barriers to education.
"This destruction is happening despite the signing by Israel of the Optional Protocol to the Rights of the Child in Armed Conflict on 14 November 2001 and ratified on 18 July 2005.
"Israel is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including Articles 25, 26 & 27. Israel is also a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child , including Articles 28, 29, 30 and 31. These articles of international law are being violated as schools are being demolished.
"2022 was also the deadliest year for children living in the West Bank since 2006. The number of children killed by Israeli security forces and settlers more than doubled to 35. Three children have been killed by Israeli armed forces since the start of 2023.
"As a group of education trade unions who are committed to the realisation of rights under the Universal Declaration and the UN convention on the Rights of the Child, and whose members dedicate their professional lives to children and young people's education, this is a situation that we are profoundly concerned about, that we understand to be completely beyond the law, and that we call upon the Israeli authorities to bring to an immediate end."
Frank Jones, General Secretary, IFUT (Irish Federation of University Teachers)
John Boyle, General Secretary, INTO (Irish National Teachers' Organisation)
Michael Gillespie, General Secretary, TUI (Teachers' Union of Ireland)
Jo Grady, General Secretary, UCU (University and College Union)
Andrea Bradley, General Secretary, EIS (Educational Institute of Scotland)
Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretaries, NEU (National Education Union)