Wed 10-July-2024

Safaa Abu Al-Ata: Palestinian woman in Deir al-Balah teaching children English

Friday 7-June-2024


Safaa Abu Al-Ata, a Palestinian woman from Deir al-Balah and an English language graduate specializing in translation, brings together children from the camp in her home to teach them the basics of the English language. Despite the challenges posed by the ongoing war waged by Israel on Gaza for the past eight months, Safaa persists in her mission.

Education amidst destruction

Children from all over the camp, which has suffered from brutal bombings, navigate through rubble and destroyed homes to gather at Safaa’s house in the Deir al-Balah camp in central Gaza to learn as much English as possible. Since the beginning of the genocidal war, Israel has destroyed hundreds of schools, universities, and kindergartens as part of its attempt to crush Palestinian awareness and identity.

However, these attempts are destined to fail spectacularly, as Palestinians have always armed themselves with the weapons of knowledge and willpower throughout the years of conflict.

Safaa told a reporter from the Palestinian Information Center that the idea of gathering the camp’s children came to her when the war dragged on. She decided to contribute her knowledge by teaching the children English grammar, after they had been deprived of education for more than eight months due to the occupation.

She added that her aim is to compensate the children as much as possible during the ongoing war, destruction of schools and kindergartens, and their conversion into shelters.

Perseverance and hope

The young teacher emphasized that Palestinians do not give up; they love life and education and have hope that the war will soon end, and they will return to schools and normal life.

In addition to teaching English basics, Safaa holds entertainment and recreational activities for the children to alleviate some of the enormous psychological pressures caused by the bombings and the terror of the war.

To make it easier for herself and the students, Safaa explained that she divided the children into two groups, meeting three days a week according to their age groups and abilities.

In conclusion, the dedicated young woman expressed her hope for the war to end soon, so that the children can enjoy safety and security like other children around the world and return to their schools and normal lives.

Systematic targeting of schools

The intense Israeli bombardment of Gaza has significantly altered its landscape, affecting public buildings, particularly schools and educational facilities. According to an analysis by the Education Cluster in the occupied Palestinian territories, 212 schools have been directly bombed.

The group, co-led by UNICEF and Save the Children, published a report at the end of March about the conditions of schools in Gaza during the ongoing war waged by Israel on the enclave.

The report revealed satellite images showing that at least 53 schools have been “completely destroyed” since the war began on October 7. The findings also indicated that at least 167 other schools suffered severe damage, and over 80% of schools in Gaza have been affected in some way.

The Euro-Med Monitor condemned the Israeli army’s insistence on militarizing civilian institutions and facilities in Gaza, including turning schools and educational facilities into military bases, in blatant violation of international law and the rules of war.

In a statement issued on May 1, the Monitor stated that the Israeli army has not only systematically and extensively targeted schools with massive bombing and destruction, and deliberately attacked civilians seeking refuge in them, but also converted several schools into military bases, centers for its forces and equipment, detention centers, and interrogation and torture facilities, contravening the rules of international humanitarian law protecting civilian institutions from the dangers of military operations.

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