Irregularities? Moyal
Photo: Amir Cohen
Sderot parents threaten schools to remain closed
City's Parents Association announces it may decide to halt opening new school year in fortnight's time, due to city's failure to fortify schools. 'We can't endanger our children,' says association

The Sderot Parents Association announced Thursday it is considering not opening the new school year, which is scheduled to launch on September 1st.


According to the Parents Association, a series of bureaucratic failures involving the Sderot Municipality and several government bureaus have prevented the fortification of some of the city's schools against rocket fire.


The Parents Association said in a statement that it would be announcing its final decision on the strike within the next few days.


"We refuse to sit idly by and be guinea pigs. You can't play with human lives like that . We believed the school year will not be launched," said the association's Yossi Suissa.


"Yes, there's a ceasefire, but we all know it's just as matter of time before things go back to being as they were. We can't endanger our children," he added.


Earlier Thursday, members of the Parents Association met with Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal, who informed them that no new fortified schools have been built in the city as of yet; despite previous promises to that effect.


The wonders of bureaucracy

In May 2007, the people of Sderot filed a High Court petition by the State regarding the lack of fortification of city schools. The Stat's rebuttal of the petition concluded that fortification is pointless, and that new fortified schools should be built instead.


In March 2008 it seemed the plan was beginning to take place, as construction of a new religious high school began. Moyal then published a tender for two additional schools, later contracting the Local Government Economic Services of the Local Authority (LGES) to manage the projects.


Sderot City Councilman Michael Amsalem then petitioned the High Court, citing irregularities in the tender. The petition was quashed, but Moyal was ordered to terminate the LGES contract by the Ministry of Interior.


Moyal contested the decision and the case has been going back and forth between the Sderot Municipality, the Ministry of Interior and the Construction and Housing Ministry; but construction was halted nonetheless.


"We have to form some sort of a committee to look at what's happening here. They're (the government) is gambling with our children's lives," said a senior source in the Sderot Municipality.


The Ministry of Interior offered the following comment: "The matter of fortifying schools is in the hands of the local authority. The mayor of Sderot is trying to spin the story in order to cover up his own omissions and the irregularities detected in the tender.


"The new (fortified) schools' construction is of the utmost importance, but their construction can only be done in accordance to the law, a fact Mr. Moyal fails to understand."


Yael Levi contributed to this report


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