42. Outside Al Khadr School complex
Al Khadr, West Bank - Palestine
Giclée print on Hahnemühle photo rag paper
56 x 84 cm
5/5 edition (+ AP)
Plumes of tear gas blanket the village of Al Khadr and students walking home (out of shot) after being fired on by Israeli border guards at junior grade students who had thrown a few stones.
Israeli security forces are a regular presence at the nearby Al Khadr School complex. They say that they are there to protect Israeli (settler) traffic on the near Route 60 from stone throwers. From what I witnessed, it was their aggressive presence which instigated most clashes involving school students. Tensions are particularly heightened during school exam periods, where I witnessed a daily military presence including harassment of students and saw (and heard) of tear gas, stun grenades and blank rounds being used extensively inside the Secondary Boys school and its surrounds. The excessive use of force and the indiscriminate nature of the munitions utilitised culminates in a form of collective punishment against the people of Al Khadr.
In late December 2015, the principle of the Secondary Boy School was detained by Israeli Security Forces (ISF) for allegedly 'controlling students appropriately'. In February 2016, I was present at a heated meeting between the teachers of the school and the local ISF commander about the clashes. The commander said "I don't want to shoot kids. I have three kids of my own but I have orders to shoot anyone who throws stones". The teachers reprimanded the commander for the excessive use of force. Both parties agreed to open lines of communication for further dialogue.
In meetings I had with teachers, they often spoke of their feeling of helplessness in the situation and how the occupation is stealing the hopes and futures of students.