The Ministry of Education has decided to enable the children of Sderot to study in safety by conducting all classes in the schools' bomb shelters. The decision, reports NRG, was reached in an emergency discussion convened this week by the director of the Ministry's Southern District, Amira Chaim, with the local supervisors and security officers of Sderot.
Minister of Education Yuli Tamir arrived in Sderot Friday morning and will talk to representatives of the parents of Sderot's school children. She will present them with the alternatives for protection of their children, including busing.
A special Ministry of Education budget, estimated at hundreds of thousands of shekels, will be devoted to turning the shelters into classrooms by installing air conditioners, ventilation devices, acoustic ceilings, lighting, carpets and steel doors in all of them.
"The District Director has already asked me to order the air conditioners immediately," said Miriam Sasi, the director of education in Sderot municipality, according to NRG. "My estimate is that it will be possible to finish the refurbishing by the beginning of the new school year," she said.
Many residents are furious that the government is not ordering the IDF to take whatever action necessary in order to silence the Kassams completely. MK Tzachi HaNegbi hinted as much earlier this week when he said that a massive IDF ground incursion deep into Gaza is inevitable in order to uproot terrorist infrastructures.
The town in Israel's Negev Desert is prey to daily shelling by Islamist terrorist gangs operating in nearby Gaza. Although the shelling began about seven years ago, it became much more intense after the 2005 Israeli destruction of its own Jewish communities in Gaza and military pullout. While inaccurate, the rockets – usually the "Kassam" type – are an effective anti-civilian terror weapon and have caused fatalities, injuries and extensive damage in Sderot and other communities in the Gaza Perimeter. The more recent versions of the Kassams are much improved in accuracy and intensity.
Busing is "Madness"
Sasi heads the special team created by the ministry for carrying out the project. The team also in
'I do not want to think what will happen if a Kassam falls near hundreds of kids who are waiting for a bus to take them to out-of-town studies.'
cludes the Security Officer of Educational Facilities, Yehuda Ben-Maman, and Tzion Suissa, Sderot Municipality's Maintenance Officer, who have begun preparing the shelters for their new use. Sasi vehemently opposes the idea of busing Sderot's children to schools outside the range of Gaza rockets. She admits, however, that the plan will mean that school laboratories and computer classes will suffer, but says it will save lives: "I do not want to think what will happen if a Kassam falls near hundreds of kids who are waiting for a bus to take them to out-of-town studies."
Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal concurs: "Transporting thousands of children to another town is madness. How can you run an education system like that. It's not happening anywhere else in the world and there is no reason for it to happen in Sderot."
The parents have four core demands regarding any solution:
• Defense Minister Ehud Barak has to sign a document approving the opening of the school year.
• The government has to deliver signed promises regarding the construction of new schools.
• Parents who want to send a child to a school outside Sderot will receive permission to do so.
• Children studying in Sderot will be eligible for busing to and from school.
Some observers have asked that while the solution is good for the short term, what will become of children with respiratory problems.
'I don't know why fate has decided to go against us this way'
Minister Tamir said Thursday that the High Court ruling with regard to the fortification of the schools makes it impossible to let the children begin the school year in the schools as they are now. The IDF's Home Front Command had instructed the ministry to let the school year begin as scheduled, and to make do with the "sheltered space" concept of protection, which involves running to a relatively safe part of the school when the missile siren sounds. The High Court, however, ruled that the "sheltered spaces" are an unacceptable solution. Fortifying the schools in a way that satisfies the High Court's demand will take close to a year, Tamir said.
Home suffers direct hit
Two terror rockets hit Sderot Thursday with one scoring a direct hit on a house and smashing through the living room ceiling. Two women were hospitalized for shock.
The house's owner, Meir Timsit, had been enjoying a barbecue meal with his family in the yard when the alarm went off and the family ran into the "sheltered space" in the home. Three months ago, a rocket from Gaza scored a direct hit on the home of Timsit's brother, Yossi, seriously wounding his wife, Colette.
Timsit told Ynet Friday that he feels "some kind of curse" is haunting his family: "The home of another brother in our family, Oren, has also suffered a direct hit, and another rocket exploded near the house of an uncle. I don't know why fate has decided to go against us this way, but we are tired of it."