Shuafat refugee camp and Nabi Samwil enclave - the start of the school year

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Natanya G. (photos), Camal - driver, Anat T. (photos and report)

7:15 - Shuafat refugee camp checkpoint - we came to see how the school year started in this difficult place. Lots of younger and older children are waiting for the buses that take them to the schools and some kindergartens in Jerusalem. The transports are divided between boys and girls, a tiny one is forced to leave her brother's hand and push her lone self to the bus. We are an attraction - the girls smile and chat with us in Arabic, that is, with Netanya. There is a list manager, and when two girls not on the list ask to join - the answer is absolutely no. The shuttle buses have a special route, and they are not taken off the bus at the checkpoint for inspection. This is also how they bypass the big traffic jam of cars going to Jerusalem.


On exiting through the pedestrian barrier, the checking female soldier is taken aback by our presence and immediately calls the checkpoint commander. A team of community police arrives, a new term for us, they tell us that there are also such police walking around in Jerusalem and Kfar Saba. They tell about their educational exploits in the neighborhood - school visits, road safety instructions, dealing with traffic jams at traffic lights and even accompanying a visit by the Minister of Education yesterday, who clarified what the only school here lacks. Nice of him.

We travel to Nabi Samwil, to the Palestinian school inside the suffocated enclave, which is completely cut off from its surroundings. You need special permits to reach the Al Jib checkpoint, which leads to another Palestinian enclave leading to the West Bank, and crossing with permits to Jerusalem, which is about a kilometer away from here, if granted, can only be done with a long drive to the Qalandiya checkpoint.

The religious settlers took over buildings here and operate tours of the Jewish/Arab site.



The school has been renovated, and the principal seems content now in a separate room from the female teachers with the religion teacher who teaches Hadith. It's new to us that he is included in the permanent staff. It's amazing to see the tiny classes that contain 5 students and a teacher (the students are only from the little Nebi Samuel and from the Bedouin village of Al-Khalila adjacent to Givat Ze'ev). The teachers come from Jerusalem and definitely make an effort to instruct the material. We are surprised to see subtraction and addition drills on the 8th grade’s board. Everyone is happy to see us again. We also visit the tiny, but happy and colorful kindergarten.

We were curious whether the breach in the fence near the Har Shmuel settlement was still active, after all the recent events. Well, yeah. For pedestrians, if needed, a taxi is waiting. The driver says that the Border Guard soldiers come here for visits, and mainly cause problems for people with medical permits, not work permits. Obviously, because how will they succeed in building all the tunnels on Highway 1 intended for Israelis if the workers from 7 villages in the northern Jerusalem enclave cannot get to work on time night and day?