The High Court of Justice leveled harsh criticism at Eilat's
Municipality and the Education Ministry on Thursday, for refusing to enroll the children of illegal migrants
in the city's school system.
The court ordered both sides in the case to find a solution before the new school year begins on Monday.
Supreme Court Justice Yoram Danziger said: "I don't know what would happen in a different country if the government would tell an ethnic group, not necessarily Jews, that due to certain circumstances, it is best if they enrolled their children in a different school."
The harsh comment was made during an appeal made to the High Court by Eilat's Municipality and the Education Ministry following the Beersheba
District Court's decision
from two weeks ago, ordering Eilat to admit the children of illegal migrants into the city's school system. The court further called the city's segregation policy "illegal."
"Is it not wiser to integrate the children in the regular school system?" asked Justice Salim Jubran, with the assumption that the number of children amounted to several dozens.
The prosecution countered Jubran's statement, saying that there are more than just "several dozen children" and that the matter is complicated: "When the educational gap between the two groups is so large, the school must establish a designated class for immigrants."
Eilat's Municipality argued that they have already established a separate school for migrants' children which will be ready to take them in at the beginning of the upcoming school year.
However, Jubran said that this was not a satisfactory solution, stating that "The idea of segregation will still exist. It is an idea that should not exist in a 21st century Israel."
Jubran further compared the segregation of illegal migrants to the absorption of former USSR and Ethiopian
new immigrants: "There were acclimation difficulties back then as well, but separate schools were not established for them."
The Municipality of Eilat claimed that the difference between children of new immigrants and children of illegal migrants stems from the latter's illegal status. Jubran criticized this argument, saying that "This argument should not even be made. These people are in Israel. We do not need to ask how they got in. They are here and it is our duty to take care of them."
The State further argued that the integration attempts in other cities have failed. "In Arad, the children of migrants were integrated into regular schools as they were, but the educational gap between the children remained," said attorney Yochi Gensin.
The Municipality of Eilat further argued that the integration of children of illegal migrants would harm the city: "You can’t just take 15 children who are at the level of a fourth grader and then put them in tenth grade."