Amid spiraling violence and behavioral problems in the country's schools, the Education Ministry distributed new directives to all schools on Thursday for fighting violence and boosting discipline, for the new school year, which starts this Tuesday. The directives, which come on the heels of Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar's announcement that cutting violence was one of the ministry's main targets, set clear standards and provide the tools needed for a more pleasant and safe climate in the country's schools, the ministry said on Thursday. The directives also give clear instructions for tightening discipline and dealing with violent incidents. Some of the new regulations include rules relating to appearance, class disruptions and attendance, while setting a standard of minimum punishments for misbehavior. The new rules also includes strict prohibitions against smoking or drinking alcohol within the framework of school, and forbids the use electronic devices - including mobile phones, cameras and other hand-held units popular with pupils - in the classroom, ruling that they must be switched off during lessons. For the first time, specific criteria have been set according to which schools must determine the severity of offenses and violence acts, as well as the appropriate punishments, some of which are obligatory and others which are left up to the schools to decide. The ministry said it had allocated NIS 10 million to implement the new directives.