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Under the slogan "We want to live in Sderot," angry local parents plan to send their kids to school on the Knesset lawn Wednesday as part of a protest against the ongoing barrage of Palestinian-launched rockets against their southern city. As an initial step, the parents have canceled high school classes in the city on Tuesday.
Wednesday's protest in the capital "will be a civics lesson," said Sophie Ben-Shoshan, who is among the leaders of the city's parents association.
After enduring rocket attacks for the last seven years, the call for all city residents to head to Jerusalem on Wednesday is the parents' latest bid in a long campaign to pressure the government to safeguard the city.
They were pushed to take that step after nine rockets fell there on Monday, including one Kassam which landed outside a day care center, causing 12 small children to be treated for shock at Ashkelon's Barzilai Hospital.
As the warning siren rang out across the city, children who had been loitering outside raced into their buildings to seek shelter.
In response, parents have called for a general school strike on Wednesday that would last until the government agrees to provide protection for all city schools within a year and to move the entire educational system to a safe place outside the city in the interim, Ben-Shoshan said.
Local residents are to be joined in Jerusalem by Mayor Eli Moyal, who, along with some municipality workers, will also travel to the capital on Wednesday.
Moyal told the parents following the attack that in the current situation he "could not take responsibility for the safety of the children in Sderot."
Complete safety was not possible even in schools with protected rooms because the children were not safe on the way to school and they were not safe at recess, said Moyal. The only way to ensure safety for the children of Sderot and for the city itself, Moyal told The Jerusalem Post after the meeting, was to end the Kassam attacks. "The problem is not reinforcement, it is terror," he said.
He has long called for the army to go into Beit Hanun, the Gaza city from which most of the rockets are launched. Barring that, the only way the Sderot children would be safe is if the IDF had helicopters hovering over Gaza each morning as they headed to school, Moyal said. He added that the government had not seemed interested in either option.
The problem appears to be about education, but what was really at stake here was the city's future, said Moyal. To that end he continues to demand that a solution be found that will enable the city residents to live there in safety. "We want to stay in Sderot, we do not want to leave," he said.
On Tuesday he will head to the Knesset in a separate trip, along with some Sderot residents, for a special emergency session on the situation in Sderot that will be held in the plenum. Likud party leader MK Binyamin Netanyahu also invited Moyal to attend a faction meeting. However, the mayor denied that a general school strike had been called for Wednesday, even as parents insisted that they were not sending their children to school that day.
Exasperated parent Sari Sasson suggested that maybe if the government failed them, the parents should appeal to the United Nations.