Gaza pupils dread cold winter in caravan school

Mon Oct 27, 2008 11:13am EDT
 
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By Nidal al-Mughrabi

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (Reuters) - Palestinian pupil Mariam al-Habbash is worried about the prospect of spending yet another cold winter semester in a cluster of rusty caravans that make up her school in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

"In summer we melt inside the caravans and in winter it is cold and the ceiling leaks," said the veiled 15-year-old.

Habbash's school is located in the village of Mawasi that neighbors the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip and overlooks the border with Egypt.

Teachers and students at the school blamed Palestinian leaders for failing to make good on promises to build concrete classrooms and said a stifling Israeli blockade imposed on the impoverished territory two years ago made things worse.

Israel imposed a siege on the Gaza Strip after Hamas won a parliamentary election in 2006. The Jewish state tightened the blockade a year ago when Hamas seized control of Gaza after routing Fatah forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas.

Human rights groups and the United Nations have urged Israel to lift the restrictions, citing worsening economic conditions and endemic poverty.

Under a truce brokered by Egypt in June, Israel has been gradually easing the blockade by allowing more supplies to enter the coastal enclave through the border crossings controlled by the Israeli army.

"Many people visit us but the visits are useless," Habbash said. "This is the only caravans school in Palestine."   Continued...

 
<p>Palestinian students study in a school made of caravans in the village of Mawasi in the southern Gaza Strip October 25, 2008. The village of Mawasi neighbours the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip and overlooks the border with Egypt. Teachers and students at the school blamed Palestinian leaders for failing to make good on promises to build concrete classrooms and said a stifling Israeli blockade imposed on the impoverished territory two years ago made things worse. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa</p>