01 June 2018

The Bedouin "School of Tyres" is at risk of closure

The village of Khan al Ahmar at the gates of Jerusalem which for decades has guarded the culture and tradition of the Bedouins, risks demolition.

Actuality and events

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Bedouins, in Arabic "desert inhabitants". One of the peoples of ancient traditions who compose the variegated anthropological atlas of the Holy Land. A semi- nomadic ethnic group mostly living on rearing and forage crops. There are many tribes, even though most of them are Muslim and Arabic speakers.

From the seventh century until the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, they all lived in the Negev Desert. Since then more than 80% have been transferred to the Jordan Valley and then to several areas near Jerusalem in the direction of Jericho. Among these is the village of Khan Al Ahmar, where the Jahalin tribe lives.

Mukhtar Community Bedouin Dawahik
"We are Bedouins who migrated here in 1948. We settled here and here we stayed for all this time, even after the war, until Italy and the Palestinian Authority helped us to build the school. Since then we have been able to draw breath a little because our children have started studying here, along with children from other neighboring villages and our situation is much improved.The Israeli government now wants to evacuate us ".

The school is dubbed the "School of Tyres" because it was built by recycling over 2,200 tyres held together with sand and mud, as using cement to build is forbidden. It was created in 2009 by the Italian NGO "Vento di Terra", with the support, among others, of Italian Cooperation, the European Union, CEI and the Palestinian National Authority.

Today it welcomes 160 boys and girls from various Bedouin villages in the area, who otherwise should walk to the nearest one in Jericho or Bethany, 22 and 15 kilometers away respectively. Following a ruling of the Supreme Court of Israel on 24 May, the school risks demolition together with the rest of the village of Khan al Ahmar starting from 1 June, because it is considered illegal.

On the evening of May 29, the residents welcomed dozens of supporters, Palestinians, Israelis and international representatives , to share the traditional Ramadan dinner.

Head of the Representation of the European Union in the West Bank and Gaza
"We are sharing an iftar - breaking the fast - with the Bedouin community here. We have a long relationship with them. They have been living here for decades and now they are on the threat of being expelled from their places of dwelling because they live in the way of settlement expansion. We have supported the community to remain in its traditional homes: the European Union, its member states and Italy, in particular."

Consul General of Italy in Jerusalem and in Palestine
"It carries a very important meaning that can be witnessed by all the people who came here, who come from the international community, from international organizations, from many diplomatic representations including the Consulate of Italy and from the Palestinian Authority, there is the Minister of education over here. Meanwhile, we want to make the community feel that we are close. After that what we hope is that things go well and that the school remains where it is. "

The fragrance of traditional dishes mingled with the muezzin's prayer which marks the end of the daily fasting for Ramadan. Meanwhile, foreigners and locals, Christians, Jews and Muslims share a table and a hope for the present and the future .