Students and faculty at the religious Zionist school in Ashkelon returned to the institution for the first time Thursday since it was struck by an improved Grad rocket launched from Gaza about two weeks ago.
"Since the attack our students have been wandering about town, but today they returned to school; this is their home, and now we are beginning anew," Principal Itzik Aberjil said during a ceremony held at the beginning of the school day.
"I keep reminding myself how fortunate it was that the students were not here when the Grad hit, and this is why we decided to hold this ceremony and thank God for the miracle," he said.
Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin said in his speech, "I am still overwhelmed by this miracle. The school was empty at the time of the attack because it was a Saturday. We won’t allow terror to hurt us; we will rebuild the school – that will be our response to terror."
School's damaged section separated by tin wall (Photo: Kerez Azoulay)
Student Council head Hodaya Elbaz, an 11th grader, said she had mixed feelings. "On the one hand we're happy to finally return to school, but there is also fear. Some students are still afraid to return and will apparently refrain from doing so in the coming days.
"We must continue our struggle to have the school fortified; our experience just proves how important this issue is," she said.
Another student described her feelings upon first laying eyes on the damage caused to the school. "It was shocking, and it took me a while to relax. It's frightening, because whenever the Color Red siren (which warns southern communities of incoming projectiles) sounds, we run to take cover in a secure area, and here the entire secure area was destroyed by the rocket. I want a representative from the IDF Home Front Command to come here and tell us that the facility is really safe."