Education Minister Shai Piron vowed the new school year will begin on September 1, as planned, despite Operation Protective Edge.

“We are prepared for every security scenario,” Piron said at a conference of managers in local government education departments in Ramat Gan.

Ramat Hanegev Local Council chairman Shmulik Rifman supported Piron’s plan, speaking at the same event.

“There are those who call not to open the school year until all classrooms in the South are fortified [against projectiles]. It won’t happen in the next 10 days, that’s clear,” he said.

Still, Rifman said, “I think it is our responsibility to open the school year even if there isn’t total fortification, because we have to remember that the framework of school has great importance in giving a sense of security and normalization for children.

“We can’t leave our children at home in an atmosphere of fear, without friends and without a framework,” Rifman concluded.

For the first two weeks of the school year, there will be “relaxing activities” for pupils, as well as discussions of the summer’s events and education against racism and incitement.

“In a place where there is not full freedom of expression, freedom is taken away... and there is deep social chaos,” Piron said.

“Freedom of speech is not connected to Right or Left, religious or secular. Freedom of speech belongs to everyone."

“It is our responsibility as a society to know to deal with different types of speech and not see them as a threat. It cannot be that in the State of Israel, Jews and Arabs cannot live together. It is part of our morality, and our test as a society,” the education minister said.

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