Education International has expressed deep concern over the safety of school children and teachers in Gaza and Israel, as violence is escalating in the area. It has urged Hamas and Israel to call a permanent cease-fire, and to respect the principle of the right to education in safety.
EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, said that “obligations under international humanitarian law must be respected to ensure the protection of civilians at all times. We must prevent more children becoming victims of the current violence. Education institutions should be protected as safe sanctuaries.”
Right to education in safety
In 2009, EI adopted the Declaration, ‘Schools shall be safe sanctuaries’, calling on the international community to step up efforts to prevent violations of the right to education and ensure the safety and security of learners, teachers and academics everywhere.
The Declaration emphasises EI’s commitment to the principle of the right to education in safety, and asks for practical measures to ensure protection and end impunity for attacks on education institutions.
“The international community, governments, and all parties to conflicts shall recognise and respect the right of all children and adults to a safe education in a peaceful learning environment, and shall respect education institutions as safe sanctuaries,” the Declaration states.
The death toll in the current upsurge in fighting has risen steadily, claiming civilian victims on both sides, amongst which several children. The international community has called for immediate de-escalation to avoid further civilian deaths. "If the rocket fire carries on out of Gaza, targeted at Israeli towns and villages, then the retaliation will increase," Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair said on UK television news. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called on Hamas and Israel to prevent a further escalation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip, and urged both sides to prevent civilian casualties.