The school year in Israel is set to begin September 1 despite unfortified buildings and continued civil unrest, said Education Minister Shai Piron. About two million students of all ages are registered, and almost 165,000 teachers and educators are set to open schools with a special focus for the first week on tolerance and ways to avoid the discrimination, racism, and violence that plague the area as part of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
“I think it is our responsibility to open the school year even if there isn’t total fortification,” said Ramat Hanegev Local Council chairman Shmulik Rifman. “We have to remember that the framework of school has great importance in giving a sense of security and normalization for children.
“We can’t leave our children at home in an atmosphere of fear, without friends and without a framework,” Rifman concluded.
On July 8, 2014, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge, aimed at ending the rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip, which led to wide-spread safety concerns amongst civilians, especially now, as the school year begins.
“During Operation Protective Edge, we have been exposed to expressions of racism and incitement that cannot be tolerated,” said Piron, who aims to have school children engage in “relaxing activities” as well as discussions regarding the conflict when school reconvenes next month.
It may be difficult to keep the violence from permeating the school atmosphere, however: Just this Thursday a local kindergarten was hit by a Qassam rocket. The children were evacuated to safety by a man who was injured in the process but is reported to be in fair condition.
Piron hopes the addition of a week of school activities specifically targeted toward tolerance and acceptance of free speech will give both educators and children a chance to process the ongoing violence in the region and help prevent further dangerous outbursts.