Students in south go back to school despite rocket fears
Tens of thousands of students from Israel's southern towns return to school on Sunday despite parents' concerns over volatile safety situation, frequent rocket fire from Gaza. 'No one can promise there won't be an alarm today,' says mother from Ashkelon
The fear of rocket and mortar fire from the Gaza Strip has far from subsided, yet tens of thousands of students living in Israel's southern towns returned to school on Sunday.
School principles in the coastal city of Ashkelon reported almost full attendance, despite parents' growing concerns for the safety of their children.
"I have friends that are afraid to go back to school," said 15-year-old Eden from Beersheba. "Yesterday, there was this feeling in the air – everyone said that another Grad rocket is going to fall. You never know when it's going to come, so some prefer to stay home," she added.
"If an alarm is heard during class, students will trample one another," said a 10th grader studying at an Ashkelon high school that sustained a direct hit from a Grad missile two years ago.
"Everyone will panic; the parents are worried too. When Operation Cast Lead began and the first Grad landed in Ashkelon, my father decided that we are staying home and not going to school," noted the student.
'Kids are scared'Even parents who decided to send their kids back to school, did so with a sense of apprehension.
Claudine Levy from Ashkelon wondered whether anything has changed since last week, "I haven’t heard that the Hamas decided to ceasefire, and no one can promise that there will not be an alarm today," she said.
"My kids told me last week that they don’t want to go to school because they are scared," said Ashkelon resident Vladimir Matatov. "This morning they were also concerned, but all their friends were going back to school, so they went as well; let's hope it stays calm."
Students heading back to school (Photo: Ze'ev Trachtman)
Some of the parents were slightly comforted by the fact that the first battery of the Iron Dome missile defense system was scheduled to be activated on Sunday in the Beersheba area.
"I hope it helps, said Sigalit, a mother of two teenage boys from Beersheba. "Now I'm slightly less concerned. Last week we were home and the kids didn’t leave the house. There was this fear in the air," she said.
Heads of towns and communities in the Gaza vicinity continued to pressure the government to finish installing fortified areas in the houses, while parents were equally concerned about the protection in education institutions.
"I don’t feel safe when they're at school, because the classrooms are not fortified," said Sigalit, adding "The children were instructed to hide underneath the tables if there's an alarm."
Shmulik Hadad contributed to this report
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