update deskIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

Israeli Arab school set on fire in eastern Jerusalem

The school, which was recently targeted by Palestinian gunmen, is one of four new institutions that will prepare Arab students for Israeli high school matriculation.

Kafr Aqab and the abandoned Atarot Airport, north of Jerusalem, July 31, 2022. Photo by Gershon Elinson/Flash90.
Kafr Aqab and the abandoned Atarot Airport, north of Jerusalem, July 31, 2022. Photo by Gershon Elinson/Flash90.

A new Arab school in the Kafr Aqab neighborhood of northeastern Jerusalem was set ablaze on Sunday night by unknown arsonists, just days after Palestinian terrorists shot at the institution in response to its announcement it would be teaching the Israeli curriculum.

Due to the damage, students have been moved to an alternate structure, according to Israel’s Haaretz daily.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed “militia” of P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction, claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s shooting attack on the school, in a letter reportedly left at the site.  

“We will cripple with an iron first anyone who helps establish the school,” wrote the U.S.-designated terrorist group, claiming that the Israeli curriculum “falsifies and targets the ancient and contemporary history of Palestine.”

Moreover, the attackers left graffiti reading, “The school year cannot be opened,” according to Kan News. The Israel Police is investigating the attack in cooperation with the Israel Defense Forces and the Israel Security Agency, the report noted.

The targeted school, named Ilya, is one of four new educational institutions in Kafr Aqab funded by the Jerusalem Municipality, that will prepare students for an Israeli high school matriculation diploma. The school was supposed to open later this week.

The project has faced difficulties since the start, with at least four teachers withdrawing applications to serve as principal following threats, local media reported.

Of roughly 110,000 Arab students in eastern Jerusalem, 85% follow the Palestinian Authority curriculum, Lach Yerushalayim, an NGO that focuses on Jerusalem-related issues, told JNS earlier this year.

“The Palestinian Authority, which is frankly the enemy of Israel, pushes the Palestinian narrative. Israel tries to fight this through a type of censorship, but it’s not succeeding within the schools,” Lach Yerushalayim chairman Maor Tzemach said at the time.

Kafr Aqab is within the Israeli capital’s municipal boundaries. However, security forces rarely enter the neighborhood since it is situated on the far side of the security barrier. Most of Kafr Aqab’s residents have Israeli residency status, allowing free movement within the country.

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