Shatha Hammad reports in Middle East Eye:
At the school gates of the Al-Sawiya/Al-Lubban Mixed Secondary School, two Israeli soldiers stand with their rifles, while a number of troops line the sidewalks of settler highway 60, the only road that leads to the school.
This is the daily reality for 420 Palestinian students from the villages of al-Sawiya and Lubban al-Sharqiya, south of the occupied city of Nablus. Schoolchildren are detained, arrested, persecuted and intimidated on a regular basis, while at times their school has been raided by the army, attacked with teargas bombs and even shut down completely.
Since the start of the school year in September, the Israeli army’s assaults on the students have risen. Over a period of close to two months, 15 students were arrested, some detained for several hours, while others spent several days in detention. The Israeli army claims that its heavy presence around the school is to help reduce the incidents of stone-throwing at army or settler vehicles on the road.
Al-Sawiya/Al-Lubban is one of the oldest Palestinian schools in the area. It was established in 1944, on an area of 42 dunums (4.2 hectares). It includes an outdoor playground on an area of 12 dunums, which the school is prevented from using, under the pretext that it is located in Area C of the West Bank.
Escalating attacks on the school
Jaafar Fadi Balouta, 13, walked quickly with his friend between two soldiers blocking the narrow pavement. “We pass by this road every day, full of soldiers, and there is no other alternative for me to take,” Balouta told Middle East Eye. “Soldiers accuse us of throwing stones, and they are all around this area during the morning hours and when we leave the school.”