Israeli policemen search for suspects near the scene of a shooting incident in Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Schools in Tel Aviv increased security on Sunday morning as the terrorist behind Friday’s fatal shooting on Dizengoff Street remained at large.
As rumors swirled that the gunman was hiding somewhere in northern Tel Aviv and countless police officers were seen searching the area, many frightened parents kept their children at home.
“Of course I didn’t send my son to school today,” Dalia E. told The Jerusalem Post
“This shooter is still on the loose, and he supposedly has a gun and just the thought of what he could do – I don’t even want to think about it.”
Dalia, whose son is in second grade, said that as far as she was concerned there was no question of sending her son to class.
“As soon as I heard the news this morning and heard that the police hadn’t caught him yet, it was obvious I wouldn’t send my son to school,” she said.
“The only problem is that he wants to go to school and doesn’t understand why he can’t,” she said. “I told him that there is a thief on the loose and that is why he has to stay home, because I didn’t want to give him the real picture.”
When asked how long she intended to keep her son home, Dalia said she didn’t know.
“This is such a nightmare. I am living from day to day,” she said. “I’ll decide each day whether or not to send my son to school until they catch this guy.”
Many parents shared her concern and decision.
The municipality reported that only about 50 percent of children attended school in north Tel Aviv on Sunday. In central Tel Aviv, 70% of students went to class, and in southern Tel Aviv, 90% did so.
Despite this, the municipality tried to project a business as usual attitude and encouraged residents to adhere to their normal routine.
School trips and activities continued as scheduled, the municipality announced, though security personnel forces remained reinforced at schools throughout the city.
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai addressed parents on Sunday, saying, “I understand the worry and concern in light of the fact that the killer has not been caught yet.”
He said the municipality was working along with the police and the security forces to increase, “as much as possible,” security at schools and crowded places.
“Hopefully, the incident will end with apprehending the terrorist,” he said.
On Sunday morning, Huldai and President Reuven Rivlin visited the Hadas Kindergarten in central Tel Aviv.
Alongside preschool teacher Keren and other educational staff, Rivlin sat with the children and read them the book Aaron and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson, the Hebrew version of Harold and the Purple Crayon.
The preschoolers asked the president why he wanted to be president, what a president does, and why he hadn’t become a soccer player.
Rivlin explained why he gave up playing soccer, “I’m just not very good at it,” he said.
“I think it’s better that I am president, because that way I have the opportunity to listen to all people in the country. I listen to all the citizens and to the citizens with difficult jobs. I listen to mayors and ministers, principals and teachers, and I try to help with any problem and to resolve them,” he replied.
“The president is primarily the mouth of all people, of all the public. When the president expresses his opinion he does so after hearing everyone’s voices. And you children – even if you don’t agree with what your friend says, first of all you need to listen and think – maybe what he is saying makes sense? It is important that we listen to everyone with respect, and maybe we will learn something,” he said.
Rivlin then visited injured victims of Friday’s attack, at the city’s Ichilov Hospital.
“These are difficult times for all Israeli citizens and I am here to listen and to be together with you. Together, alongside children in kindergartens and parents who woke up in fear this morning; alongside the wounded and the terrified families – all of us together,” the president said as he left the hospital.