KHAN AL-AHMAR, West Bank (AP) — Dozens of children returned to school on Sunday, taking part in an annual ritual that has taken on special meaning in this Bedouin tent camp. The makeshift school buildings, cobbled together from mud and old tires, were built over the objections of Israeli authorities who are now threatening to demolish the structures. Israel says it won’t tear them down until alternate facilities are available.
“We’ll go to school until it’s demolished,” said 10-year-old Islam Hussein as she dashed to the school on a nearby hill, after hastily dressing in clothes her mother gave her. She was faster than her brother, Mohammed, 6. Their mother Sara playfully threw shoes at them as she told them not to be late.
Behind them was their home: a series of huts of tin, plastic and wood, forming a kitchen, sleeping room and animal pens. Nearby was the family’s camel herd. Bedouins have lived in similar conditions for centuries, sometimes preferring a nomadic life style to the offer of government-built towns.
About 150,000 Palestinians, or 6 percent of the total number in the West Bank, including those of Khan al-Ahmar, live in the 60 percent of the territory that remains under full Israeli control. This territory is also home to Jewish settlements, where 300,000 Israelis live.
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