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.

Colonel 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 threats.”

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 use.

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 are closed.

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