Interactive Palestine

Risking Their Lives to Go to School

How Palestinian children have to trade their safety for an education 

In the Occupied Palestinian Territory, children and their parents have to brave their way to school, facing obstacles and violence few would know even exist.

This is the story of thousands of Palestinian children who risk their safety every day to be able to study. 

In 2021

Face Going To School

“The soldiers hold guns and point them in children’s faces. If a child wants to cross the street, they are scared. They have to go through the barbed wire fence to come to school. One of our teachers attempted to rescue a child who was shot while blindfolded and handcuffed.”- School principal in Bethlehem

Meet Nour* and Ziyad* and learn about the risks they face when going to school. 


In Gaza

“I feel a lot of terror, and now that terror is getting bigger. We started sleeping in the hallway because I was so afraid. I can’t go anywhere without my mum or dad. The windows [in our home] shattered over us and my mum had to protect us. I’m really afraid and fear has spread everywhere. I stay up all night long, I can’t sleep because of the sounds of the airstrikes.”- 10-year-old Amal* in May 2021, Gaza


For further information about how the 2021 May escalation of Gaza affected children’s education, see the Education Cluster’s report here.


Palestinian children examine materials in a classroom at a school that was bombed during the bombing of the Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza City, on May 27, 2021. (Photo by Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

“Soldiers attacked my school three- or four-times last year. They threw tear gas and shot live ammunition. Some teachers and students couldn’t breathe, the ambulance came, and we all went home.” - Farea*, age 12, Hebron



Tear gas cannisters fired by Israeli forces at a school in Oureef, west of Nablus

The UN considers both the killing and maiming of children, and attacks on schools or hospitals as grave violations against children in times of conflict, and must be condemned by the international community.

For more information, see A Decade of Distress, published by Save the Children in 2019 – A Decade of Distress


Interactive Map

The following map provides details on all documented education related incidents since 2021 and all schools under threat of demolition.

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What Gaza’s Children Told Save The Children

About half of the two million people in the Gaza Strip are children under the age of 15. Children as young as 14 have lived through four military escalations (2008 - 2009, 2012, 2014, and 2021) and cannot leave because of the air, land and sea blockade in place since 2007.

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When the recent war started, I did not know what to focus on. Do I focus on studying or worry about what is happening? My little siblings were scared and we were all scared, and I was not able to open a book or study at all, especially at night because the sounds of the explosions were frightening. I would always wait for the morning to come, but even then I would not be able to focus on studying or using the phone to study. I was worried for my safety all the time. – Hasan*, 15, Gaza City.

shell_photos_4K.jpgAn exploded Israeli shell at the yard of a school that was hit during the recent Israeli airstrikes on the Zeitoun neighbourhood in Gaza City. (Photo by Mohammed Talatene/picture alliance via Getty Images)


Since May 2021, the number of children suffering from conflict-related trauma rose from 33% to 91%. Save the Children’s own interviews and focus groups with Gaza’s children revealed that the economic crisis resulting from the blockade and the frequent escalations are the main factors resulting in lower academic performance and them dropping out from school.

For more information about how Save the Children partnered with the European Union to respond to the education crisis in gaza, click here.


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The Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip is considered by both the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) illegal under international law as it constitutes ‘collective punishment’ and prevents civilians from securing their basic rights, including education.

Concrete steps must be taken to immediately lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip, as it is the root cause of the persistent denial of the rights of children in the Gaza Strip and one of the key drivers of the humanitarian crisis.


What Children In The West Bank Told Save The Children

“Sometimes the Israeli army aims their weapons at me when I’m inside school to scare us. This happens all the time. On a daily basis when I’m going to school I cross a checkpoint where I’m always stopped for a while, my bag is checked, and my belongings are damaged. This can delay me for an hour or two or half an hour. So I’m late for school and I miss classes.” – Rami*, 17, Hebron

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“A challenge in which the school faces is the fact it is located in Area C, which makes it subject to constant demolition notices from the occupation; the occupation can demolish it or take over it at any time. There is also no sense of safety, because the school is always facing, at any time, attacks from the Israeli occupation. Students are not safe, they’re scared and anxious.” - Rawan, a teacher at the Ibzeeq School near Tubas.

dozer_4K_compressed.jpgIsraeli forces use a bulldoser to remove a caravan used for a new Palestinian school facility in Susia, on the outskirts of the Hebron in the occupied West Bank on February 19, 2020. (Photo by HAZEM BADER/AFP via Getty Images)


Many Palestinian schools are located in Area C, which comprises 60% of the total area of the West Bank and is controlled by the Government of Israel. In Area C, Palestinians are generally not allowed to build – homes, schools, or other essential structures – and they are issued demolition orders by the Israeli authorities. In most cases, the justification given by Israeli authorities for demolishing structures is a lack of Israeli-issued permits – through a planning system that severely limits Palestinian construction.

Since no schools are allowed to be built, Palestinians usually rely on make shift structures as spaces to educate their children in Area C. There are currently 55 schools under threat of demolition. That’s over 5,400 children at risk of losing their school.

All threats of violence and attacks by Israeli military forces and settlers against Palestinian children on their commute to and from school must end.

Furthermore the Government of Israel must end the practices of destroying education infrastructure and revoke the 55 ongoing demolition orders on schools in Area C of the West Bank.  


Children Are Regularly Exposed To Tear Gas

The UN documented nearly 17,400 injuries by tear gas inhalation and over 1,950 cases of direct tear gas hits reported in the West Bank, between 2019 and 2021. Of those injured, at least one out of five were children.

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The systematic use of tear gas by the Israeli military including in and around school facilities threatens the ability of children to learn, stay focused and feel safe at school. 

Governments must take necessary measures to pressure the Government of Israel to immediately stop the use of live ammunition, rubber-coated bullets, tear gas, and other chemical materials against children.

For more information, read Save the Children’s report about attacks on education in the West Bank published in 2020 – Danger is our Reality.


Education Is A Human Right

The blockade, destructive escalations, and continuous violence affects the mental health of children across the oPt. Children told Save the Children they had experienced uncontrollable shaking, losing consciousness and fainting, loss of self-confidence and depression, as a consequence of their emotional distress. No child should have to endure such distress and sustained hardship.

Save the Children consulted with the elected children councils in the oPt and they told Save the Children how these experiences have had a devastating impact on their wellbeing, development, and ability to learn.


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Most importantly, these children gave us a list of messages and asks for you: 

  • The Government of Israel should endorse the Safe Schools Declaration and implement the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict. 17-year-old Ahmad from the West Bank said “You must call on the Government of Israel to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration and apply its guidelines.”
  • The Government of Israel must comply with International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law, as Asma, 15, from Gaza told us “Only when the conventions and treaties are actually applied on the ground, will our rights be protected.”
  • Steps must be taken to provide immediate support to schools and students affected by attacks on education. 15-year-old Majd from the West Bank told us “These experiences and violations harm both our physical and psychological health.”



This site was developed by of Save the Children’s occupied Palestinian territory office. Data collection and analysis was carried out by Arab World Research & Development (AWRAD), Al-Mezan, and Cambridge Consulting Services.

Thanks are due to the Palestinian experts who offered expertise, as well as peer organizations and colleagues who provided invaluable insights and feedback. Special thanks in particular to the Education Cluster, UNOCHA, and the Palestinian Ministry of Education. Credits are also due to the Palestinian photographers, artists, and creatives that helped produce the site’s content.

Most of all, we thank the Palestinian children who took the time to share with us their experiences, challenges and hopes for the future. This site is dedicated to all Palestinian children and to the human rights defenders who tirelessly work to protect them.

Platform Development by: ProVision

Sources: Save the Children, Danger is Our Reality, 2021: Save the Children consulted with 414 at risk children from high risks areas of the West Bank; Save the Children, A Decade of Distress, 2019 ; Education Cluster; UN OCHA, UNICEF, ‘One war older’; Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor; published July 2021. Link:, Education Cluster, Report on Damage in Educational Facilities Gaza Strip, July 2021; Legal and Policy Issues Associated with Weapons Described as ‘Non-lethal’, In: International Humanitarian Law and the Changing Technology of War, Neil Davison, Pages: 279–313;; No Safe Space: Health Consequences of Tear Gas Exposure Among Palestinian Refugees (Human Rights Center, School of Law, University of California, Berkeley, January 2018),;