Hassan – the Principal of al-Ibrahimi Boys School

Al-Ibrahimi Boys School is located near the Ibrahimi mosque and the Palestinian neighborhoods of Qitoun, Salaymeh and the Old City. Qitoun checkpoint, Salaymeh checkpoint and the Mosque checkpoint are all situated close to the school. The majority of students and teachers come to school through Qitoun checkpoint on their way to al-Ibrahimi Boys School. The school is located on streets where Palestinians are only allowed to walk and are prohibited from driving on. Below are the words of Hassan after he answered the question “What is it like for you as a Principal to go through the checkpoint everyday?”

“The Israeli border police, they all know us. However, they still check me and the teachers each day. One time when I was walking through the checkpoint an Israeli border police officer ordered for my ID. I said “you know me. I pass here everyday. You know I am the principal.”
But still, the Israeli officer made me produce my ID, take off my belt and even made me take off my shoes because I was setting of the metal detector.

There are a few things to mention here.

Firstly, I have told them [Israeli border police] before that if they close the turnstiles at the checkpoints, that it could create problems.
Secondly, I’ve asked them [Israeli border police] if these children were their brothers or sisters, would they feel okay delaying the children on their way to school?
Thirdly, once the children are out of the checkpoint, they immediately run away from it. This is really dangerous because the settlers drive very fast around the of this checkpoint and children could be hit.
Lastly, they know that these children are students. They know the students don’t have anything dangerous in their bags.

I tell the students to not even bring geometric equipment to school, because the soldiers don’t allow these kinds of things through the checkpoint. If the children bring them it will cause problems. These are important items for students and their education, but they are unable to bring them to school due to the Israeli checkpoint.

Another issue is that the students who are tall for their age are often asked for their identification, even though they are only 13 or 14 year olds and don’t yet have IDs. This creates more problems.

Our staff play many roles here at the school.
1. We are policeman, standing at the road making sure students cross safely.
2. We have a role of parents, to look after the children on their way to school. But we look after the students from the checkpoints and make sure they get out.
3. If a student is ill, and a parent cannot pick the child up because of the risks the parents face going through the checkpoint, then we [the staff] take the child home.
4. We are paramedics, we are teaching the students first aid.
5. Finally, we are teachers, teaching their education and how to be good citizens. We are trying to teach them how to benefit their society and their families.

When school finishes each day we divide students into three groups and escort them in the direction of their homes. In order to make sure they get home safely, past the checkpoints, past the Israeli settlers and all the Israeli soldiers and Israeli border police.

We really care about the security of our students, but we face many obstacles and difficulties with the Israeli settlers in the area. On numerous occasions settlers have followed our students as they are coming to school. When this happens the border police never intervene.

We are unable to bring many supplies into the school. When we do bring supplies the students have to carry all supplies through Qitoun checkpoint. If we ever need furniture or large items for school, they need to be brought through the checkpoints as well. Everything has to be carried from far away because we are not allowed to drive near the checkpoint. Why can’t we have permission to bring a car through the checkpoint to transport our school supplies?

The parents of the children are too afraid to come to the school. They are too afraid to visit and see the children in the school environment because of the checkpoints, the Israeli border police and the Israeli settlers.

On Monday, 5th February 2018, the border police claimed that some of my students threw stones at the checkpoint. I told them you can search the school and you will not find one stone. The border police did not find any stones, only a pile of left over rubble from workmen drilling. The Israeli border police threatened me and said they will come back into the school and arrest any child who throws a stone.

This is my fourth year as the principal at this school. I know my students don’t throw stones.”

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