Injured evacuated
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Pupils hurt as floor collapses in Jerusalem classroom

Several students injured, some suffer shock as first floor of UNRWA girls' school in Old City crumbles beneath their feet. Family members: Settlers digging under building

Several students were lightly injured and three suffered shock when a classroom floor crumbled beneath their feet in an UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) girls' school in Jerusalem's Old City.


The pupils were on the first floor when it suddenly collapsed, causing them to fall into a hole 2 meters (6.5 feet) deep.


A commotion broke out in the area, with all of the school's workers and the students' family members standing outside the building and looking for someone to blame. According to the crowd, the Jerusalem Municipality and Israeli government had neglected the place for years.


Shortly after 12:30 pm, the police and Magen David Adom rescue services received a report on a floor that had collapsed in an 4th graders' classroom opposite Dung Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Hole in the floor (Photo: Gil Yohanan)


Yisrael Cohen, an MDA paramedic dispatched to the area, said, "Some 14 students were sitting on the school's first floor, when the floor suddenly collapsed beneath their legs without any warning.


"Some of the girls are suffering from light back and limb injuries and cuts. The event was handled quickly and I'm happy the damage caused was not heavier."


'Arab schools neglected'

The students were removed from the school, and the incident is being looked into.


One of the residents, Ala, whose cousin was hurt in the incident and evacuated to the hospital, offered his own explanation. "It's because the settlers are digging into the Western Wall," he told Ynet. "They dig under the earth and the Jerusalem Municipality is helping them."


Ala also complained that east Jerusalem residents were constantly discriminated against. "The State doesn’t care for us, and this school is an example. No one cares about the Arab residents."


Raleb, whose daughter was in the classroom, also blamed the settlers for illegally digging under the school. "This really makes us angry. The settlers are digging under the classrooms, causing people to get hurt. Look how angry all the people here are."


Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat arrived at the school immediately after hearing about the incident.


"This was caused by sloppy construction," he told Ynet. "It's clear that whoever built this place did not do it properly. This is a classic engineering problem.


"Under the floor was a space built on logs which rotted and could not stand the load. The floor was weak, and this caused its collapse. The whole building must be rebuilt so that such an incident does not repeat itself, God forbid."


Knesset Member Michael Melchior (Labor), chairman of the Knesset's Education Committee, joined the resident's complaints that Arab schools were being neglected.


"The situation of schools in east Jerusalem is catastrophic," he said in response to the incident. "It turns out that with the Arab sector, a floor has to collapse before someone becomes interested in the schools' conditions. if we don't wake up, the floor may collapse on us all."


Ronen Medzini and Yaheli Moran Zelikovich contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 02.01.09, 13:53
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