Shalom Kita Aleph. A is for Attacks. B is for Bomb shelter.

New anti-rocket school near Sderot

New anti-rocket school in Shaar Hanegev, near Sderot

It’s the start of the new school year, with a record number of two million schoolchildren beginning classes yesterday.

For the first time ever the number of pupils enrolled in Israeli schools and kindergartens has reached over two million, a 2.8 percent increase over two school years ago.

The Israeli school system has expanded across the board, with 1,582,000 children in schools today, over 1,531,500 two years ago, and the number of kindergarten pupils growing from 373,000 to 423,000.

Today, there are 62,955 classrooms in the Israeli school system over 58,009 two years earlier, while the number of educational staff dealing with them has risen to 141,085 over 130,000 two years ago.

Meanwhile the people of Sderot and the Gaza border region have enjoyed a few weeks of relative quiet from the persistent shelling of their communities, but those savages from Gaza cannot resist trying to kill Israeli children, and so they “welcomed” the new school year with a bang. Literally.

Two rockets fired from Gaza hit factories in an industrial area near Sderot Sunday morning, injuring two people and causing damage to buildings.

One man was reported lightly injured and another suffered from shock from one of the rockets that hit around 9 a.m. A second rocket hit a factory, and caused no injuries. The factory had previously been struck three times by rocket fire from the Strip.

A third Kassam rocket landed in the same area near Sderot about an hour later. No damage was reported in that attack.

The IDF did not take this lightly, and the Air Force returned fire at several terror sites. Unfortunately this pattern has become highly repetitive and seems to do nothing to deter the terrorists.

The only good news in all this, which technically isn’t good at all simply because of the necessity behind it, is that some of the Sderot region’s schoolchildren have a brand new, rocket-proof building to protect them, so that they can study without having to worry where the nearest bomb shelter is.

For the first time in years, the children of Sderot can study in peace.

Living under a constant threat of rocket fire from militants in the nearby Gaza Strip, their schooldays were often interrupted by mad dashes to bomb shelters. But on Monday, they started the school year safe from attack in a new, fortified, rocket-proof school building.

The $27.5 million structure features concrete walls, reinforced windows and a unique architectural plan all designed specifically to absorb and deflect rocket fire. Notices on the walls of the Shaar Hanegev high school remind the 1,200 students of their new reality: in case of a warning siren, it reads, stay put.

“You can finally teach without constantly worrying about what to do when there is a rocket attack,” said Zohar Nir-Levi, the principal of the junior high school inside the complex. “You can concentrate on your studies. It used to be that even before you said hello in the morning you were telling people where to run.”

[...]

Over the years, authorities have scrambled to protect the town’s schools, reinforcing buildings with concrete barricades and stronger roofs. A heavily fortified elementary school was also built, as was a special indoor playground with a mini-soccer field, video games and bomb shelters, according to local officials.

But officials say the new high school takes protection to a new level. The school, built on a sprawling campus, took two years to plan and then two more years to construct.

Each grade has its own color-coded building, with colorful tiles lining the floors. It features concrete shelters in the school yard as well, to allow students on recess to find cover in the 15-second window they have between the sound of the siren and the landing of the rocket. A science lab and an auto shop are fortified. Even the angles of the buildings are specially built to deflect incoming projectiles.

“The walls are thick, the windows are very thick too,” said Yuval Gani, the architect who designed the school. “The doors are protected, the roof is protected also…. The facade of the building, its task is to deviate the missiles.”

The most poignant comment came from an 11th grader:

Michael Spitzer, an 11th grader, said the protection of the building made him less concerned about his younger sister, who also studied there and his mother, who is a teacher.

“I don’t have to worry about them anymore,” he said. “I can just focus on school and not all the other stuff.”

How many 11th graders in other countries have to worry about such things?

In any event, kol hakavod to the planners and builders of the new school, and I wish hatzlacha raba (great success) to all the millions of Israeli schoolchildren in their studies this year.

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5 Responses to Shalom Kita Aleph. A is for Attacks. B is for Bomb shelter.

  1. Cormac says:

    God love the children of Southern Israel, the biggest thing I had to worry about in school were my grades and where i was going to go at lunch.Every time they hear the bell ringing for the start of school a feeling of terror must come upon them.I don’t know how anyone could cope under those conditions.This may seem a little defeatist but has anyone ever considered evacuating all the residents of Sderot? I never visited that part of Israel before but I’ve read about it.I understand scepticism about it and also the fact that Sderot is their home and they’ve probably lived there all their lives but no one could possibly live a comfortable life under such stressful conditions.

    Striking back isn’t effective really as their attitude is pretty much summed up as if 50 or 100 dead “matyrs” is worth killing 1 Jew.The 2006 Lebanon War shocked Hezbollah and as a result they’ve never tried attacking Israel since.Why didn’t Cast Lead have the same effect upon Gaza?

    • anneinpt says:

      I don’t know if it’s the school bell that strikes terror into the children’s hearts. After all, the kassams fly at all times of the day and night. Probably school is one of the safer places for the children, even the regular unfortified schools. As far as I know all the schools in the region have fortified shelters and classrooms, which of course do not lessen the terrible fear when they have 15 seconds to run for shelter.

      I understand your suggestion to evacuate the border area, but in a tiny country the size of Israel it really isn’t practical. After all, where do you draw the line? The rockets can fly further and further, and already reach major population centers like Beer Sheva, Ashkelon and Ashdod. Sderot is merely the nearest and easiest target, but withdrawal wouldn’t stop the rocket fire. It would simply change target. Withdrawing would only encourage the terrorists on the one hand, and make Israel’s liveable area even smaller than it is already.

      You raise an interesting question about why the 2006 war deterred Hezbollah but Cast Lead didn’t do so to Hamas. I think there are a couple of major differences between the two. After the 2006 war a UN “peacekeeping” force was intervened between Israel and Lebanon. However useless the UN is considered to be, it is still an international presence interfering, to however a minor degree, with Hezbollah’s ambitions.

      Secondly, Hezbollah resides within another sovereign country, Lebanon. Israel has made it quite clear that any further activity from Hezbollah will be held to be Lebanon’s fault and they will bear the brunt of Israel’s retaliation. The Lebanese authorities are therefore keeping a tight lid on Hezbollah. Hamas on the other hand are the sovereign, for want of a better word, in Gaza, and not subservient to a higher authority.

      And thirdly, Israel apparently has a “contract” out on Hezbollah’s leader Nasrallah, so he doesn’t dare appear in public or see the light of day. As far as I know there is no similar contract out on Hamas’s leaders, although I really cannot explain why Perhaps it’s just to keep stability in relations with the Palestinians, although as far as I can tell, the West Bank Palestinians hate Hamas almost more than Israel does. .

      • Cormac says:

        Think you may have misunderstood my point, I merely meant the sounds of alarms and bells everyday must remind them of the horrors of Qassams.

        Yes that suggestion does seem a little unrealistic but as far as I’m aware Ashdod, Beersheba and Ashkelon have iron domes, Sderot doesn’t.

        Didn’t think of that, yes Hezbollah represents some of Lebanon’s Shia Muslim community and not Sunni Muslims or Christians who may be slightly distrustful.Therefore they’re not legitimate in the eyes of many Lebanese, however Hamas was democratically elected by Gaza’s Sunni majority.

        • anneinpt says:

          the sounds of alarms and bells everyday must remind them of the horrors of Qassams.

          Ah. I see your point. However the siren for an incoming kassam is not a regular siren or alarm bell; rather it’s a voice over the tannoy announcing “Tzeva Adom” (Colour Red) with an electronic beep. Here’s a traumatic dramatic video:

          In Kiryat Shmona the missile alert sounded like a supermarket tannoy, or an airport announcer. “Ding dong, please enter your shelters” – over and over again. During the Gulf War when we were hit by Iraqi Scuds, we had the real air raid sirens – wailing up and down sirens. Give me tummy-ache…

          Ashdod, Beersheba and Ashkelon have iron domes, Sderot doesn’t.

          I’m pleased to tell you you’re mistaken.. They might not be as effective given the very short distance, but they are deployed there.

          • Cormac says:

            I stand corrected, wasn’t aware of the sound of them alarms nor was i aware of an iron dome protecting Sderot.Terrible video by the way, not the way it’s produced but just the fact that it happens at all.

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