Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett gestures during a preliminary vote on a bill at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem November 16, 2016.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved on Sunday an amendment to the penal code that will increase the punishment for violence against teachers.
Education Minister and Bayit Yehudi head Naftali Bennett brought forth the amendment, which was initiated by his party member MK Moti Yogev.
The amendment states that, “anyone who attacks an educational worker during working hours, and if the attack is related to the fulfillment of the duty of the educator, will be sentenced to five years imprisonment.”
The proposed amendment comes on the heels of negotiations between the Teacher’s Union and the Education Ministry over curbing increased violence against teachers – an issue that has been in the spotlight after a student in Tel Sheva knocked a local high-school teacher unconscious last month.
A nationwide teachers’ strike that would have affected some 700,000 pupils was narrowly avoided after the ministry promised to expedite a bill aimed at ending violence against teachers.
As such, Bennett further instructed the ministry’s director-general Shmuel Abuav to examine the current sanctions at the disposal of teachers and principals – and to ensure that if a student attacks a teacher, the student may be permanently expelled from school.
“Teachers are our main resource. We are committed to empowering the standing of teachers,” Bennett said.
“We have improved their terms of employment and now we are also guaranteeing their safety. The amendment reflects our policy of zero tolerance for violence in the education system,” he added.
Yaffa Ben David, chairwoman of the Teacher’s Union welcomed the amendment and called on the government to adopt additional legislation curbing violence and establishing a national authority for the protection of teachers.
“Violence against teachers is a national plague,” said Ben David in a statement. “Only enforcement and legislation will address the problem of violence.”
“The state needs to expand the proposed legislation and include the establishment of a treatment mechanism that will deal with all the problems of violence that will be based on cooperation between all relevant bodies: education, welfare, and the police,” she said.
She added that only such a mechanism will “return authority to the teachers which has [to date] been lost.”