A dispute over the number of students at a religious school in Kiryat Malachi has prevented the placement of an armed guard at the building, prompting charges against the police of failing to protect an educational center just weeks after the attack on Jerusalem's Mercaz Harav Yeshiva.
By law, every educational center with at least 100 pupils must be provided with a security guard at police expense.
"The Beit Yosef school houses 115 pupils, aged five to 10. Requests by the school's principals and municipality representatives for a guard to be placed at the school were submitted over six months ago, and the police have not yet approved the request," the Knesset's Interior Committee said in a statement.
Kiryat Malachi's head security officer, Aryeh Yosef, testified before the committee, saying, "In August 2007, I asked the police to add a guard at the school because the number of pupils had passed the 100-mark, but the request has not yet been approved."
Supt. Kral Rish, who represented the police at the meeting, said that "according to the lists we have, 75 pupils study at the center, and the rest are in kindergartens that belong to the same complex. Therefore, the school does not meet the standard for appointing a guard. Having said that, we have sent information on the change in the number of students to Police National Headquarters, and they are dealing with the issue."
MK David Azoulay (Shas) slammed the failure to place a guard at the school, declaring during the meeting, "This is a letdown by the Kiryat Malachi Police, who are abandoning an educational center specifically during this period of major security alerts."
Azoulay demanded that police report to the committee within a week and inform it whether a guard had been placed at the school.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, Azoulay said the children at the school "are today being abandoned. If, God forbid, something happens, the police are fully responsible. The police received two requests to place a guard there."
But a senior police source pointed out that it was the Education Ministry that was responsible for providing police with updated lists of school pupil numbers.
"For a school to receive security, it must be recognized by the Education Ministry, have a certain number of students, and must have a fence and a gate," the source said.
"We receive figures on school sizes and information on schools' natural growth from the Education Ministry. Therefore, the statements made at the committee are not entirely clear," he added.