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The school principal said that based on the number of youngsters in Nabi Samwil, there should be 60 pupils through grade six studying in the school — but that lack of space precludes this. Most Nabi Samwil pupils consequently study in other villages. In January, after being visited by a civil administration official backing up a previous order, Abu Arqoub removed cloth from a tent he had put up to give pupils a sheltered rest area outside their classroom. “I wanted it to be a place they could eat sandwiches and relax,” he said.
In October, paramilitary border police forces also escorted a bulldozer that demolished sheep pens and cow sheds that were deemed illegal structures in the village. These structures formed part of the livelihoods of Issa Barakat and Eid Barakat, two local farmers. “I had one big and one small shed with 35 sheep,” said Issa Barakat, 62. “These are sheep that we live from, that we make cheese and milk from. There is no other work here.” He said that 10 of his sheep died from exposure to the elements after the demolition.
Eid Barakat, who comes from the same extended family, showed the Forward an order he was issued to uproot 99 fruit trees planted in 2011 on land he owns that has been designated part of the national park. “They make it impossible for me to make a living. Everything is forbidden. If they could close the air, they would,” he said.
Inbar, who is spokesman for the Israeli Defense Ministry’s coordinator of activities in the territories, said it was necessary to demolish the pens because they were illegal. Authorities are now working on a plan that would legalize some, but not all, of the buildings in Nabi Samwil and would allow permitted buildings to grow in size via additions by 20%, he said. The toilet could be legalized under such a plan, the school expanded and the road fixed, Inbar’s office said.
After being pressed for a week for details on the Nabi Samwil plan, Inbar, in an email sent just before press time, said that “ad hoc” buildings where the Palestinians currently live will be replaced by “permanent buildings that are appropriate for a park.”
This appeared to contradict Inbar’s earlier statement that some existing buildings could remain and be expanded. The email also contradicted his earlier suggestion that the school would be part of the plan. Public buildings are not included in the plan at all, his email stated.