Beersheba parents fume over lack of shelters in schools

Despite 40 Grad missiles having landed in and around Beersheba during Operation Cast Lead earlier this year, the city's educational institutions still do not have enough bomb shelters to protect all their children - and parents are furious, reports Parents' representatives said the state and the local authority had apparently "forgotten" about the need to protect students and was placing them in danger if any further attack occurred. According to the report, Beersheba's parents have been pleading for the city to provide more shelters in schools and kindergartens since the end of Operation Cast Lead. During that war, one missile landed in a high school and another landed in a kindergarten in the city, both fortuitously empty at the time. As soon as the war ended, the principal of the struck high school wrote to the city to say there were insufficient shelters in the school to house all the students. But the report said the city had not replied to the letter, nor to a further letter sent two months ago. A spokesman for the school's parents' committee said that if another missile fell on the school, it would be a "disaster of national proportions." "Like our school, the rest of the educational institutions in the city are not protected and do not have enough shelters," the spokesman said. "Someone must give us a solution... what is happening today is a mockery." And the head of the municipal parents' committee, Shlomo Ben Shoshan, said the state and the local authority had "forgotten" about the students as if there had not been any war just a few months ago. "Everything has gone back to the way it was," Ben Shoshan said. "Educational institutions in the city are not ready from the point of view of protection and shelters and are not prepared for another war, and this presents a danger to students." A municipal spokesman said that "everyone" knew that there were not enough shelters in educational institutions, and that in an emergency, schools and kindergartens were expected to follow the instructions of the Home Front Command and of the city. City officials reportedly asked the Defense Ministry about protection for educational institutions, and were told that the costs of providing this were "extremely high."