Southern schools still lack protection from Kassams

Eshkol Council leader: If budget not allocated, 1,000 students will be at risk when school year starts.

kassam drill 298.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
kassam drill 298.88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Eshkol Regional Council head Uri Na'amati warned on Wednesday that if a budget is not allocated to renovate its schools this summer, 1,000 students will return to Kassam-vulnerable classrooms come September. Although former defense minister Amir Peretz authorized plans for Eshkol school buildings to undergo the rebuilding that would protect them from Kassam rockets, no funds have been designated to begin these changes. According to Na'amati, Kassams fell mere meters away from the building during the last school year and put the students, aged six through 18, in immediate danger. Eshkol sought temporary solutions to enable students to finish the school year, such as busing the pupils to a nearby army base for classes. But such quick fixes are not a permanent answer for the distraught community, which hopes the prime minister will intervene and take action before the school year begins on September 1, said the region's director of public affairs. Since Peretz's tour three months ago, several facilities within the Eshkol region have been allocated funds to fortify them against Kassams, with most proposed projects currently finished or undergoing renovations, except for two schools. "We have two elementary schools and two high schools, but one elementary school and one high school lie within the 7 kilometers of the border designated by the government to receive protection, and the other two schools are 7.2 kilometers away from the border. Peretz came after a Kassam leveled a house about 8 kilometers from the border and decided all our schools needed protection. But nothing is being done," Na'amati said. The Eshkol Regional Council wants to construct sturdier roofs, following the designs of schools in Sderot and other nearby areas. "On the first of September, the year starts, and we have nothing. I think we need to be prepared for the pupils so they can begin their studies in safety," said Na'amati.