Eyewitnesses recount dozens of Israeli occupation forces escorting the bulldozers into the refugee camp, while others closed off traffic at the checkpoint near the school.
The Israeli forces then, reportedly, surrounded the al-Razi School from rooftops of nearby buildings while students and faculty were evacuated prior to the demolition. According to multiple witnesses, there were drones observed flying above the two-story school building and rubber-coated steel bullets fired on locals in the camp.
The owner of the demolished school building, Muhammad Alqam, insists that he issued all necessary permits at the Israeli Jerusalem Municipality before beginning construction. Alqam was assured that the area belonged to the United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).
There was no prior notice of the demolition before it took place, says Saleh Alqam, principal of the al-Razi school and an official reason for the demolition is yet to be confirmed.
Despite the requisite preparations being carried out, the demolition order was issued, in November, by Israeli authorities.
The United Nations has consistently condemned Israel for the practice of illegal demolition, since 2015.
The al-Razi School had registered about 400 kindergarten and elementary students for the upcoming school year for the new building.
It is a common practice of Israeli authorities to demolish Palestinian-owned buildings under the pretext of missing permits. Permits in East Jerusalem are rarely issued to Palestinians, and the application process can last years and cost several thousands of dollars. The process burdens individual families in Palestinian neighborhoods, while projects for Jewish Israelis are funded and carried out by the Israeli government. The government assists in planning, marketing, development, as well as infrastructure.
“Since 1967, the Government of Israel has directly engaged in the construction of 55,000 units for Israelis in East Jerusalem; in contrast, fewer than 600 units have been built for Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the last of which were built 40 years ago," the founder of Terrestrial Jerusalem, Daniel Seidemann, noted.