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Testimony: Students from Tel 'Adasah, near Bir Nabala, can't attned school because of the Separation Barrier, Sept. 2007

Amir K'abneh, 13

'Abd a-Fatah Yunis

I have lived my whole life with my family in Tel '‘Adasah, which is located east of Bir Nabala. I have always gone to the Bir Nabala School for Boys. My two sisters, Zeinab, who is in fourth grade, and Zeineh, who is a first grader, and my brother Muhammad, a sixth grader, also go to school in Bir Nabala.

My school is about one kilometer from my house. My brothers, cousins, and I usually walk to school. The problems began when Israel started building the Separation Barrier a few hundred meters from our house. In the meantime, they finished building this section. It separates us from Bir Nabala, where we also go to do our shopping.

When the Israelis built the fence, they left only one opening, through which we passed to get to and from school, and for other needs. Border Police officers stood there and let us pass.

On Wednesday, the 12 th of September, the Israelis closed this only opening in the barrier. Since then, my siblings and I have not been able to get to school. We have already missed ten days of school. I worry about all the material I missed, and I don't know how I'll make it up.

This morning, 23 September, my siblings, cousins, neighbors, and I - a total of fourteen school kids - decided to go to school via the Qalandia checkpoint. My father escorted us. We left Tel '‘Adasah at 6:30 in the morning, walked about 1.5 kilometers to the a-Dahiya intersection, and took a sherut [shared taxi] to the Qalandia checkpoint. We each paid two shekels, twenty-eight shekels altogether. After we crossed the checkpoint, we got into another taxi, which took us to Bir Nabala. We went via the villages Kafr '‘Aqeb, Rafat, and al-Jedida. It cost us a total of ninety-eight shekels, with each of us paying seven shekels.

When school finished for the day, we walked to the opening in the Separation Barrier and saw it was completely blocked. We shouted out, hoping that one of the Border Police officers or a soldier on the other side of the fence would hear us, but nobody came.

We couldn't get back home via Qalandia Checkpoint because we have Palestinian ID cards and our houses in Tel '‘Adasah are in the Jerusalem area. We need a permit to cross the checkpoint.

We were stuck in Bir Nabala. We sat by the shops and called my uncle, Muhammad Hussein Azjuiman K'abneh, who is forty-five years old. He called B'Tselem and asked them to help us get home. The small children among us were crying and wanted to get home. They were hungry, too. My uncle brought them something to eat. The bigger children among us, me included, are fasting [it is Ramadan], and we'll probably have to break the fast here in the street. I don't know how we'll get home.

I insist on continuing to go to school, even if I have to sleep in the street.

Amir Jibril K'abneh, 13, is a student and a resident of Tel '‘Adasah in East Jerusalem. His testimony was given to Kareem Jubran in Bir Nabala on 23 September 2007.