The Defense Ministry announced on Tuesday that it would reinforce school
buildings up to 15 km. from the Gaza border by the start of the next school
year, to protect pupils from rocket fire.
Speaking at an emergency
meeting called following the attacks of the past few days, Knesset Education
Committee chairman Alex Miller (Israel Beiteinu) called for the reinforcements
to apply to schools 40 km. from Gaza.
“Israeli children will not be a
part of the missile-launchers’ Russian roulette,” Miller said.
Benny Shik, head of the Defense Ministry’s building reinforcement department,
said that the Home Front Command estimates that protecting schools in the range
of 15-40 km. from Gaza would cost NIS 500 million, and the government has yet to
approve the expense.
In addition, Shik explained that reinforcement in
that range would not be complete, because “it would be wrong to turn buildings
used for education into fortresses, even when considering the expected
According to Yigal Sarfati, a representative of the Ministry of
Education, all of the schools within seven km. of Gaza have been reinforced,
except for one.
Shik also pointed out that nine daycare centers were
opened in Ashkelon by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor without the
Defense Ministry’s approval, and encouraged local authorities to make sure the
Home Front Defense Ministry check schools before they are put to
Deputy Mayor of Ashkelon Shlomo Cohen complained that the
reinforcements were being installed slowly, and the municipality cannot take
responsibility for pupils in unprotected buildings.
Miller called on the
Education Ministry to train educators to “teach from a distance” and fund direct
phone calls to pupils to make sure they are doing assignments while the schools