Qassam strike in Moshav Netiv Ha'asara (Archive photo)
Photo: Tsafrir Abayov
The ongoing firing of Qassam rockets has raised anxiety among parents of toddlers in the towns and kibbutzim surrounding the Gaza Strip.
"I am very very fearful for my children. It doesn’t matter how much you guide children and tell them to put their hands over their head. A hand over the head will not protect them from a Qassam which will open a hole in the ceiling," a woman from Kibbutz Gevim told Ynet.
Her two sons go to the nursery school and kindergarten in the kibbutz, which has been aimed many times by Qassams fired from Beit Hanun.
A letter sent to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon by the heads of the fours regional councils surrounding the Gaza Strip to reveals an unacceptable
risk for the lives of children in the kindergartens and day care centers exposed to the threat of Qassams.
Up to now, the council heads claim, the Israeli government has not succeeded in protecting these educational institutions. Most of them remain exposed to Palestinian terror, which only Tuesday night struck again in the shape of a rocket landing in Moshav Netiv Ha'asara.
"The budget allocated to the protection of educational institutions in the towns surrounding Gaza enables the protection of only a tiny number of all kindergartens and day care centers. The Israeli government must budget the protection of its young children residing along the Gaza border, which is subject to ongoing rocket attacks," the council heads say in the letter.
"We shall not agree to a situation in which only casualties cause the government to react rationally," they add.
In the kibbutzim and moshavim surrounding the Gaza Strip there are dozens of kindergartens and nursery schools, from the Kerem Shalom community in the south to Moshav Netiv Haasara near the Jabalya refugee camp in the north.
It turns out that most of these kindergartens and day care centers have not been shielded yet, despite the security situation since the beginning of Qassam firing by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad toward the western Negev following the bombing in the Jabalya refugee camp.
"We ask that the government wake up before a Qassam causes a disaster of dozens of casualties in the kindergarten," sources in the Shaar Hanegev Regional council said.
"The mental preparation will not help after a rocket falls into the kindergarten," said the anxious mother from Gevim.
"There is basic fear for the children, especially these days. After a Gaza assassination – the fear is real. A while ago I had to go to a work meeting in Tel Aviv, but I cancelled it because I was afraid I was leaving the children unprotected in the kindergarten and nursery school," she said.
Sources in the Prime Minister's Office told Ynet that so far NIS 86 million (approximately USD 19 million) have been transferred to budget the plan to shield kindergartens and daycare centers in the towns and kibbutzim surrounding Gaza.
The director-general of the Prime Minister's Office recently instructed the professional ranks to in the Ministry of Finance and in the Home Front Command to increase the sheltering budget by approximately another NIS 45 million (approximately USD 10 million) in order to guarantee the full protection of all kindergartens and daycare centers in the area.
Sources in the defense minister's office said that the protection budget is being invested these days under top priority in the protection of educational institutions and kindergartens in the 19 towns which are in a range of up to seven kilometers from the Gaza Strip border.