Back to School: Israel's New Academic Year Begins

New school year gets off to a mostly smooth start; schools in Taybeh remain closed to protest principle's murder.

Nir Har-Zahav ,

Back to school! Children studying in hareidi
Back to school! Children studying in hareidi
Flash 90

2,105,394 children will begin the new academic year today (Monday), at kindergartens and schools throughout the country.

149,705 of those are students entering their first year of school, according to the Ministry of Education, compared with 112,750 entering their 12th and final year of studies.

Alongside them, 164,999 teaching staff begin their new year.

According to the Education Ministry the new academic year has been launched throughout the country with only a few hitches.

One exception is in the Arab city of Taybeh, where schools will remain shut in protest of the murder of Yousef Hajj Yahya, the principle of the Amal school who was shot to death last week by an unknown attacker.

Several schools in Ashkelon, Netanya and Pardes Hana will remain closed as well, as parents protest inadequate safety measures and overcrowding.

Israeli Police say they have mobilized 5,000 personnel and volunteers in preparation for the new school year, both to ensure security and direct traffic.

President Reuven Rivlin opened the new semester with a state visit to schools belonging to the Zichron Menachem organization, which helps children suffering from cancer.

Rivlin praised the students for their strength in the face of diversity and wished them a full and speedy recovery. He asked the students to write to him personally to let him know when they had recovered and returned to mainstream schools.

In all, it is a welcome start to the new school year and a relief for many parents, who until just a few days ago had been confined to bomb shelters together with their children at the height of summer during the 50-day Operation Protective Edge.

The Education Ministry had said that despite hostilities with Gazan terrorists the school year would begin as normal, but schools in the south of the country - where communities were hardest-hit by indiscriminate rocket and mortar fire - said they would be ignoring that directive and would not be opening while fighting continued.