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From the field

Testimony: Seventh-grade pupil in Beit Lahiya describes studying in a partially destroyed schoolhouse, one year after Operation Cast Lead, February 2010

Khaled a-Sultan, Seventh-grade pupil

Saed a-Sultan

I am in the seventh grade in the Abu J'afer al-Mansur School, in Beit Lahiya. After the war, the other pupils and I returned to school and discovered it had been bombed. It was all in ruins, and the classrooms were missing windows and doors.

My house was damaged during the war as well. Some of the rooms were destroyed, and so were the kitchen, the doors, and the windows. We fled from the house during the first days of the war and slept at the UNRWA school in a-Shati camp. After the war, we returned home. We put nylon on the windows, bought some things, and fixed what we could. Our financial situation is not good, and we can't rent another apartment.

Khaled a-Sultan in his classroom. Nylon replaces the shattered window panes. Photo: Muhammad Sabah, B'Tselem, 14 Feb. ‘10
Khaled a-Sultan in his classroom. Nylon replaces the shattered window panes. Photo: Muhammad Sabah, B'Tselem, 14 Feb. ‘10/>

Due to the poor condition of the school, they sent us to study at the Tel a-Za'tar School, which is about two kilometers from my house, and I had to walk there, which was tiring.

After a month there, they transferred us to the Umm el-Fahm School, which is about one kilometer from my house, because they hadn't finished removing the debris and tidying what they could. />

A week later, we returned to our school, but it still feels like a wreck. It's cold in  the classrooms because there aren't any windows, there  are blackouts sometimes, which make it hard to see what's on the blackboard, there are bullet marks on the walls, and lots of pupils in each classroom - about 50 - so the teachers can't explain the material to all those who don't understand. Before the war, there were 38 kids in the class. Also, we hear the noise from the road, and it is hard to hear the teachers. They have to repeat themselves and waste lesson time. The schoolyard is destroyed as well. We don't have a learning atmosphere. The atmosphere reminds me more of war and death, and the fear we felt when the planes and tanks bombed houses and schools here.

Khaled Muhammad ‘Ali a-Sultan, 13, is a seventh-grade pupil and resident of Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip. He gave his testimony to Muhammad Sabah at the school on 14 February 2010.