Broken promises leave kids in rocket zone unprotected

More than two years after the state proposed building 13 reinforced schools in the Gaza periphery, no work has been performed on nine of them.

Kassam Sderot 88,224 (photo credit: )
Kassam Sderot 88,224
(photo credit: )
More than two years after the state proposed building 13 schools in Sderot and the Gaza periphery that would be reinforced against rocket and mortar attacks, no work has been performed on nine of them. This according to the state's latest update given to the High Court of Justice this week. Six of the schools are scheduled to be built in Sderot, one in the Sdot Yam Regional Council at Kibbutz Sa'ad, and two in the Ashkelon Coast Regional Council at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai. Another school, Beit Yehuda Yeshiva at Kfar Maimon in the Sdot Negev Regional Council, is under construction but will not be ready for two more years. The Sderot Municipality spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post that construction has begun at one of the six schools, while contractors have been chosen for three of the other five. On August 16, 2007, the state proposed building 13 schools in Sderot and the Gaza periphery to replace 17 schools that it said it could not properly reinforce in accordance with a High Court ruling. The court had rejected the state's proposal to reinforce only public spaces in the schools and have the children rush from their classrooms to the fortified spaces when the "Red Color" alarm, warning that a rocket was on the way, was sounded. It insisted that the government reinforce every regular classroom and auxiliary room, such as labs, in the schools. Less than three months later, the state told the court it could not implement the ruling and suggested instead reinforcing seven existing schools and replacing the other 17 with 13 new buildings. It originally told the court that one school would be completed by September 1, 2008, eight would be completed by January 1, 2009, two would be completed by September 2, 2009, and the last two would be ready by August 1, 2010. But according to the state's latest update, 10 of the schools will only be ready for use next year. That means that throughout the new school year in Sderot, children will only be studying at seven schools that are properly reinforced. The rest, who are waiting for the new schools to be completed, will attend schools whose reinforcement has been deemed unsatisfactory by the High Court. The same applies to children at several schools in the Gaza periphery. "This is a scandal," attorney Ori Kedar told the Post on Wednesday. Kedar and attorney Keren Raz-Morag represent the Parents Association of Sderot and the Struggle to Restore Security to Sderot. Kedar said the construction of the schools was a question of "priorities. The moment it is no longer urgent to build the reinforced schools, the authorities stop caring. If Kassams start following all of a sudden tomorrow, they will start acting again." Batya Katar, who lives in Sderot and is deputy chairwoman of the National Parents Association, charged that "the government of Israel, the minister of education, the minister of defense, the prime minister and the former mayor of Sderot are all guilty of criminal failures. If even one child is hurt by a rocket, I will sue all of them." Katar said that even the existing schools that were reinforced could not stand up to the ever-improving rocket arsenal of the terrorists in Gaza.