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200,000 Return to Classes As West Bank Schools Reopen

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Some 200.000 Palestinian children went back to school Saturday, as Israeli authorities opened West Bank schools for the first time since Jan 20

Israel had closed the schools for most of the 19 months of the Palestinian uprising, on the grounds that they served as bases for violent demonstrations.

Israeli authorities said the reopening went smoothly, despite a general strike in the territories, with about 183.000 elementary-school students and some 10.700 high-school seniors returning to class.

The older students were allowed to return to school in order to take their matriculation exams. The remaining 125.000 children of secondary-school age will return to school gradually, provided schools remain quiet. The school year is due to end Nov.23.

Classrooms were full and students assured reporter that there would be no more demonstrations in the schools.

Brig. Gen. Shaike Erez, head of the civil administration in the West Bank, met with students and told them that their future is in their own hands.

“If you want to learn, you have the opportunity to do so,” he told students at a school in Tulkarm. “If you don’t, then that’s your choice too.”

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