MK Uri Maklev
MK Uri Maklevצילום: מרים אלסטר, פלאש 90

MK Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism) has warned that the sandboxes in kindergartens are an unsanitary health hazard to children.

At a hearing held this morning by the Knesset Children's Rights Committee a Health Ministry representative noted that the danger exists in any accumulation of sand in the kindergarten, not only in the sandbox: "Only ongoing care by the local authorities and the kindergarten will prevent harmful animals and bacterial infestation."

MK Maklev contacted representatives of the Health and Education Ministries, and said "kindergarten sandboxes are a health hazard of the first order; neither the Education Ministry nor the local authorities are dealing properly with this important subject. There is an impression that these bodies do not recognize a direct link between children's diseases and infections and polluted sandboxes in kindergartens".

"We understand the importance of a sandbox to early childhood development but the sandbox must be clean and sanitary - otherwise it's not a sandbox, it is a health hazard," said Maklev.

Committee Chairman Yifat Sasa Bitton said: "Do not absolve the local authorities of responsibility. Ultimately, the kindergartens are within their jurisdiction and responsibility and they must ensure that the sandboxes are in order and not contaminated."

Rotem Zahavi, the director of environmental safety at the Ministry of Education tried to calm the situation and said: "The picture is not catastrophic. There are problems, but it is not everything. In terms of safety rules, sandboxes should be neat and clean and free of dangerous objects. The local authority has the responsibility, it should do a survey every year and if necessary replace the sand. The Education Ministry has supreme responsibility that inspectors go and check the sandboxes."