JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli police stationed at the Lions’ Gate entrance to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem prevented textbooks from being delivered to Palestinian schools located inside the walled holy site on Tuesday, a day before the first day of school.
Ahad Sabri, head of one of the schools awaiting the textbooks, the Al-Aqsa Sharia School for Girls, told Ma’an that the Israeli police prevented the books from entering on the grounds that they were printed with the logo of the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Sabri said that 100 textbooks, destined for students in the 7th and 12th grade, were being held on the floor outside the compound. According to PA-owned Wafa news agency, the books were headed to three Palestinian schools, two high schools and a kindergarten.
An Israeli police spokesperson could not be reached for comment.
Sabri highlighted the it was not the first time Israeli authorities have restricted educational materials from entering Al-Aqsa. She said that just last week, Israeli forces prevented a private car from delivering a scanner to girls’ school, forcing children to roll it through on a wheelchair.
She noted that Israeli police also prevented standard A4 paper from being delivered to the school for a two-week period last year.
According to the school director, Israeli forces also raided and searched the classrooms when the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound was closed in mid-July in the wake of a deadly shooting at the site and an ensuing mass civil disobedience campaign and boycott against new Israeli security measures there.
She said that Israeli forces confiscated electronic equipment from the school during the closure.
Back in May, the Israeli security cabinet advanced a plan pushed forward by Israel’s far-right Minister of Education Naftali Bennett to incentivize Palestinian schools in East Jerusalem to switch to the Israeli curriculum by denying the schools that teach the Palestinian textbooks financial subsidies while granting those that teach the Israeli curriculum hefty portions of financial assistance.
Palestinians say Israeli textbooks distort and misrepresent Palestinian history and culture, and the PA has described Bennett’s plan as part of an Israeli campaign to “Judaize” Jerusalem
by threatening the Arab and Islamic heritage of the holy city marginalizing Palestinian Jerusalemites.
The fate of Jerusalem has been a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades, with numerous tensions arising over Israeli threats regarding the status of non-Jewish religious sites in the city, and the “Judaization” of East Jerusalem through settlement construction and mass demolitions of Palestinian homes.