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In ‘Shockingly Cruel’ Move, Israel to Auction Off Classrooms It Dismantled in West Bank

Palestinian children in Jenin, a city on the West Bank | Tarek

Eoin Higgins, Common Dreams

Israel is auctioning off classrooms it seized from the occupied West Bank last year, a move that one Palestinian advocate called “truly appalling.”

The Guardian reported Friday on the auction, expected to be held in the next two weeks.

“This is so shockingly cruel and brazenly defiant in the face of international law,” said James Zogby, founder of the Arab American Institute. “Profiting off of the theft of classrooms and denying Palestinian children a roof over their heads.”

The Israeli Civil Administration, the governmental body in charge of policy in the occupied territories, dismantled the schools in October. The classrooms were set to be used to educate 49 schoolchildren in the West Bank and were a donation from the European Union Representative to the Palestinian Territories. 

“The E.U. missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah call on the Israeli authorities to rebuild the school structures in the same place without delay,” the representative said in a statement at the time. 

Critics saw that call to action as relatively toothless and indicative of the mission’s broader empty morality, a point stressed by Electronic Intifada founder Ali Abunimah in February.

“Here’s how it works,” tweeted Abunimah. “@EUinIsrael and other #EuroHypocrites governments pay for the schools. Israel demolishes them. EU rewards Israel for its crimes. Repeat as nauseum.”

The Civil Administration did not follow the E.U. mission’s advice and rebuild the classrooms. Rather, the agency saw the opportunity to sell the materials confiscated from Palestinian children. 

Per The Guardian:

A list of auction items, seen by the Guardian, showed dates, item numbers, locations and descriptions that matched the confiscated classroom structures. The sale also appeared to include material confiscated from Palestinians and Israeli settlers who built without authorization.

Criticism from observers on social media pointed to the latest assault on Palestinians as reflective of the immorality of the occupation. 

“Less the action of a Government that has lost its moral compass,” said British barrister Jo Maugham. “More of one that has dashed that compass to the ground and is now grinding it underfoot.”

The auction is “truly appalling,” said U.K. group the Muslim Council’s Miqdaad Versi. 

“The EU condemnation is utterly meaningless while they continue to single #apartheid #Israel out for special treatment with trade deals,” tweeted the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign. “Support the #Palestinian boycott.”


This article originally appeared on Common Dreams. It is shared under a creative commons license.


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Stone Men: The Palestinians Who Built Israel

By Andrew Ross

The Story of Palestine’s Stonemasons and the Building of Israel “They demolish our houses while we build theirs.” This is how a Palestinian stonemason, in line at a checkpoint outside a Jerusalem suburb, described his life to Andrew Ross. Palestinian “stone men,” utilizing some of the best quality dolomitic limestone deposits in the world and drawing on generations of artisanal knowledge, have built almost every state in the Middle East except their own. Today the business of quarrying, cutting, fabrication, and dressing is Palestine’s largest employer and generator of revenue, supplying the construction industry in Israel, along with other Middle East countries and even more overseas. Drawing on hundreds of interviews in Palestine and Israel, Ross’s engrossing, surprising, and gracefully written story of this fascinating, ancient trade shows how the stones of Palestine, and Palestinian labor, have been used to build out the state of Israel–in the process, constructing “facts on the ground”–even while the industry is central to Palestinians’ own efforts to erect bulwarks against the Occupation. For decades, the hands that built Israel’s houses, schools, offices, bridges, and even its separation barriers have been Palestinian. Looking at the Palestine-Israel conflict in a new light, this book asks how this record of achievement and labor can be recognized.


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