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Unprotected School Buses ‘A Disaster Waiting to Happen’

With rock attacks on the rise, thousands of children are in imminent danger, Jewish leaders warn.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 3/4/2014, 4:15 PM

Baby Adelle
Baby Adelle
Courtesy: Biton family

A dangerous mix of Palestinian Arab terrorism and government inaction means thousands of young Jewish children are in danger, Israeli leaders from Judea and Samaria (Shomron) warned Tuesday in a meeting at the Knesset.

Jewish leaders from the region joined a meeting headed by MK Motti Yogev (Jewish Home) to discuss the issue of protective windows for cars and buses. Reinforced windows have been found to dramatically reduce the risk of injury or death if a vehicle is hit by projectiles.

Data from the IDF revealed the extent of the increase in rock terror on highways. In particular, the number of people injured in rock attacks more than tripled between 2011 and 2013.

In 2011, there were 1,769 reported rock attacks on Israeli drivers, and 44 people were hurt or killed in such attacks. In 2013, there were 2,479 reported attacks, and 132 injuries.

‘Rocks Left my Lively Girl Immobile’
One of those wounded in 2013 was two-year-old Adelle Biton. Adelle remains severely handicapped due to the attack.

Her mother Adva made an emotional appeal to MKs. “My little girl still suffers a serious brain injury,” she told them. “A rock is a projectile weapon for all purposes.

“Our entire family was hurt by those rocks. [Adelle] was so full of life, and today she is immobile,” Adva revealed. “Reinforcing the windows of cars saves lives. I hope you realize that."

School Buses Surrounded by Arab Mobs
Regional leaders are pushing the government to follow through on promises to fund a project to reinforce windows, in hopes of bringing down the growing number of rock attack casualties.

Moshe Saville, Deputy Director of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, warned that school children are in danger due to “old, out of date” buses.

School buses carrying Israeli children sometimes get stuck in Palestinian Arab towns, he said. “Arabs gather around them… This is likely to end in tragedy,” he warned.

Dovi Dinar reported that the situation in the Binyamin region is equally bad. “We have 150 buses that will be too old to use within a year,” he warned.

Promised Funding Never Came
The government pledged funding to reinforce the windows of school buses and public transport in the Judea and Samaria regions in 2011. However, the promised funding has yet to come through due to a dispute between the Finance Ministry and Defense Ministry.

Government officials have pledged another 2.5 million shekels to subsidize the reinforcement of car windows.

Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika said he was pleased to hear about the promised funding to protect private vehicles. However, he said, “the non-transfer of money meant to reinforce school buses, for three years, is an outrage.”

“The Finance Ministry and Defense Ministry would do well to resolve their conflict and immediately transfer the money to provide protection for buses, so that we can safeguard our children’s lives,” he declared.