Looming displacement disrupts class in the West Bank

STORY: Every morning, these students in the West Bank take a long and dangerous route to school.

There are always army tanks here, says 17 year-old Bisan Makhamreh.

She lives in Masafer Yatta - a group of hamlets that have become a major flashpoint.

The military has been restricting movement here - and live fire exercises have become increasingly frequent.

Students and teachers are held at checkpoints - sometimes for hours - only to be told to go back.

In incidents reported to the U.N., Israeli forces detained school staff and confiscated vehicles -

in one instance, forcing children to walk to school in the desert heat.

(Bisan Makhamreh, High school student)

"This year has been very difficult and has taken a real toll on me, because Israeli forces often find us on the road and stop us, I feel like I am losing my right to get an education. Especially since they are on the road and they tell us to go back. But with all of that, we take the risk and take alternative routes that are longer and more dangerous, but we want to learn, what can we do?"

Masafer Yatta was declared a closed military zone by Israel in the 80s - and has been under a decades-long legal battle that ended a few months ago.

In May, an Israeli court ruling cleared the way for the largest displacement in decades - to make way for a military firing zone.

Israel sees Palestinians living there as seasonal dwellers.

But residents are refusing to leave and rights groups say families have been living here since before Israel captured the West Bank in 1967.

(Majdi al-Adra, Mayor of Khalet al-Maiyya)

"The education rights for children in these areas is violated on more than one level; firstly the movement restrictions for children while on their way to school from their villages. As you can see the checkpoint that is there everyday at this time of day, to restrict and prevent them from reaching school. The other issue is more related to the psychological aspect, which is scaring and frightening the children, particularly children under ten years of age, when soldiers, carrying weapons, run after them".

International bodies including the United Nations and European Union have expressed concern about the situation at Masafer Yatta.

All four schools in the area are under the threat of demolition.