Following an attack on the Ministry’s headquarters in Ramallah, I urge the international community to intervene and end the Israeli atrocities on the Palestinian people.
Ramallah, 4 April, 2002. The Israeli army has positioned tanks and troops throughout all Palestinian population areas and systematically destroyed Palestinian infrastructure. The headquarters of the Palestinian Ministry of Education (MOE) in Ramallah was not spared from this destruction.
Yesterday (3 April, 2002) more than thirty Israeli tanks made a forceful entry into the Ministry of Education (MOE) building by demolishing the main gate and the main doors. Although there were MOE employees who showed willingness to use keys and open all inside doors, the Israeli invaders refused and badly treated these employees, even using them as human shields. When all padlocks were exploded and open, all MOE employees were captured and forced to sit outside in heavy rain and cold for six hours.
When soldiers left at nine in the evening the employees came back and witnessed the big damages and losses: the MOE computersÂ’ net servers where taken with a lot of floppy disks, CDs, files, dossiers and documents from all offices.
In the financial offices, the main coffer lock was exploded which damaged all related papers including vouchers, promissory notes, cash, cheque books.
In the general examination central office, all the main doors were bombed and destroyed, all iron cupboards containing highly important documents were exploded. The invaders took or destroyed all records and references that are very important for official transcripts. The records were built over years; losing them means being incapable to issue or certify studentsÂ’ documents and transcripts.
The main MOE storage rooms were also invaded, and computers were taken as well as overhead projectors, TVs, video sets, and other valuable learning equipment. This equipment is worth millions of dollars which was provided by generous donor countries and organizations.
All other offices were left in a mess. Files have been torn or taken, and what is left has been piled on the floor in a terrifying scene. At this stage we canÂ’t define the real size of damages and losses. We will make a comprehensive assessment of this damage whenever we can reach the building.
We would like to highlight that when the Israelis broke in, there was no firing of any form in the area or around it. The MOE building is located in an area which is far from the city centre and surrounded by a wall.
Such destruction expresses an attitude that goes beyond military purposes. It reflects a deep resentment towards whatever bears the mark of any Palestinian civil institution.
We would like to confirm, also, that the MOE is serving one million Palestinian children, i.e. one third of the Palestinian population in West Bank and Gaza. The invasion of the MOE building is actually an aggression against all children of Palestine. Such aggression is another dreadful event added to the fact that more than one hundred and sixty students were killed over the last eighteen months and the fact that for over a week, almost one million Palestinian children are being denied access to their school Â– a basic right for any child.
The attack on the Ministry of Education is against all international treaties and conventions. The Ministry of Education has repeatedly warned the international community of the disastrous effects of IsraelÂ’s non-compliance with its obligations under international law, in particular, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The State of Israel willingly signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Moreover, the State of Israel has not only failed to comply with the provisions of the Convention, it has consistently and systematically engaged in gross violations of Palestinian childrenÂ’s rights.
The Palestinian Ministry of Education urges and calls upon you to stop this destruction of schools, buildings and offices, and to return all documents, and equipment to MOE.
The Palestinian Ministry of Education urges and calls upon the international community to intervene and demand an IMMEDIATE halt to IsraelÂ’s siege on the Occupied Palestinian Territory and an end to Israeli occupation as outlined in UN resolution 242 and 338.