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70,000 Palestinians Return to Class As Israel Reopens West Bank Schools

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Some 70,000 young Palestinians returned to classes on Wednesday as the civil administration reopened junior high schools in the West Bank.

This was the implementation of phase two of the administration’s decision to reopen the schools, despite the ongoing intifada.

All schools in the West Bank have been shut down throughout the school year, except for a few weeks in December and January. Primary schools and 12th grade classes reopened 12 days ago. With the reopening of junior high schools, only 10th and 11th grade classes are still closed.

The reopening of the junior high schools reportedly went smoothly, with no disturbances reported.

This was the second time this week that school proceeded as scheduled. An estimated 80 percent of the Palestinian pupils showed up to classes on Sunday, despite orders by the unified command of the uprising to stay home during a general strike.

The high attendance was attributed partly to the Hamas fundamentalist movement, which ordered students to go to classes despite the strike.

Gen. Amram Mitzna, head of the Israel Defense Force central command, told members of the Knesset Education Committee, who visited schools in Ramallah and El-Bireh on Tuesday, that the schools were reopened after parents and principals promised the schools would no longer serve as sites for demonstrations.

“The time is ripe for reopening the schools,” said Mitzna. “The pupils and their parents have come to the conclusion that the children want to learn.”

Mitzna cited three incidents in which teachers and students drove masked youths out of three West Bank schools, after the intruders tried to persuade them to leave classrooms and demonstrate outside.

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