This morning as the news came that Israeli troops have withdrawn few meters away from the site of our Dar al-Kalima School, Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb and the School’s headmaster Dr. Charlie Haddad, decided to try reaching the premises despite the warnings in the news that snipers are still in the area.
This morning as the news came that Israeli troops have withdrawn few meters away from the site of our Dar al-Kalima School, Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb and the School’s headmaster Dr. Charlie Haddad, decided to try reaching the premises despite the warnings in the news that snipers are still in the area. They were met by the school’s guard, Mr. Jawad Abed Al Jawad, who yesterday was one of the hundreds of the detainees from the Deheisha Refugee Camp in Bethlehem. Upon entering the school, the three of them were met by scenes of damage, greater than was originally anticipated. Preliminary assessment of the damage to the infrastructure, which was done in a hurry due to the threat of sniper-attacks, is as follows:
* Seven (7) broken windows including one that had iron protection, which was bulldozed.
* Eight (8) massive iron doors were shot at and destroyed. One of these doors took 24 bullets to open.
* Four (4) interior wooden doors are destroyed.
* A tank hit the northeast corner of the School’s building.
* Great damage was done to the rooms of both the counselor and social worker, which are part of the Wellness Center.
* The door to the Chapel and Assembly Hall was broken.
* The wooden cross at the entrance of the School was taken down and destroyed as well as the ceramic cross, which was a gift to the school from Bishop Rambo from the United States, who was a member of the fact finding delegation of the ELCA.
* A number of our children’s artwork and paintings were trampled upon.
* Several interior walls of the building are damaged by bullet holes while others have graffiti writings in Hebrew saying which troop was the one occupying the building.
* Signs of forceful entry into the offices of the headmaster and the secretary.
* Telephone lines were damaged.
* Damage was done to the garden and the driveway and some of the trees at the front of the Wellness Center were driven over.
Despite the damage that was done to the school, which can only be described as an act of pure vandalism and hatred, we are thankful that the damage did not reach the Kindergarten, the classrooms from 1-10, and the computer lab. Nevertheless, we are still concerned that the Israeli army may return to the buildings to continue the destruction of our property. The fact that the Israeli tanks are less that 100 meters away form the school make us believe that the damage that the school has suffered may be just the beginning of what will come. The fact that other institutions of learning, such as the Bethlehem University in Bethlehem, have suffered great damage to their infrastructure makes us believe that Israel has a plan to destroy the Palestinian educational institutions, including those owned and run by the Churches.
These acts of vandalism by the fourth strongest army in the world makes us wonder what is so offensive about the Dar al-Kalima School, which our students have proudly decorated with writings and artworks that talk about non-violence, peace and dialogue between peoples? What is so offensive to an Israeli soldier about a child’s painting of a clock that teaches him to organize his day, leading him to throw it to the floor and step on it? A great deal of energy and effort went into designing the colorful doors to create a child-friendly environment. Why is this hatred for places of beauty? All of these questions are for the Israeli society to answer.
We are worried about the reaction of our children once they see all the destruction done to their school. What would this do to all of the values of non-violence, which we have been trying to instill in them? This act of destruction is one small example of the Israeli government’s loss of perspective and sanity. The Israeli army has proven that it can destroy doors and windows, but never will they be able to break our spirit. We will continue to teach our children never to accept injustice and to work diligently towards building a better future for the coming generations of Palestine.
Therefore, we call upon all of our friends to help us in these trying times to do the following:
1. Send letters to your respective governments asking them to end occupation and the destruction of the Palestinian people.
2. Send letters to your respective ministries of Education to ask them to voice their objection to what is happening to Palestinian institutions of learning.
3. Call upon your governments to support sending International Peace Keeping forces to Palestine to protect the civilians from the Israeli military hostility.
4. Write letters to newspapers and televisions in your countries, demanding accurate reporting of what is truly happening in the Holy Land and the massacres that are being perpetuated against the Palestinian people.
5. Find a school in your community that would be interested to write a letter of support to the children of the Dar al-Kalima School. They can send these letters to the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>
We are confident that you can play an important role in bringing justice and reconciliation to this part of the world. Join hands with us in nurturing the seeds already planted and with God’s strength and your support we will succeed in reopening the school, replanting the garden and opening the Wellness Center.
Dr. Nuha Khoury and Ms. Viola Raheb
For more information and photos, please click on the following link:
Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb
Tel: ++972 2 276 4696
Fax: ++972 2 277 0048