Sixty nine percent of Gaza schools damaged by Israeli assaults

Almost 69 percent of government and UN schools in the Gaza Strip were damaged by Israeli assaults. West Bank students began their school year in solidarity with Gaza counterparts. And will Israel begin its school year as scheduled despite opposition from Israel’s south?

“At this time of the year, Palestinian children prepare to begin the new school year. But at least half a million of Gaza’s children will not begin the school as scheduled,” said the report.

“The opening of schools for Gaza’s children is delayed until further notice. Israel’s ongoing assault has significantly damaged at least 277 Governmental and UNRWA schools. About 30% are still being used as shelters for displaced families.”

Schools in Gaza are functioning as shelters to accommodate the thousands of internally-displaced Palestinians, whose houses were bombarded during the ongoing offensive, forcing them to seek refuge at schools and hospitals.

While the new school year in the West Bank commenced on Sunday, the first class for the over 700 thousand Palestinian students was dedicated to addressing the ongoing military onslaught on Gaza. Many classes then took to the streets in solidarity with their counterparts in Gaza.

A sharp public debate is currently being conducted in Israel about opening the new school year, slated to begin on 1 September. While the education ministry has suggested that the school year will open as scheduled, most officials and parents in Israel’s south are opposed to this decision.

Education Minister Shai Peron (Yesh Atid) met with municipal officials in the south on Monday, a meeting which the Israeli press reports as ending “in confrontation”. Ashkelon Mayor Itamar Shimoni reportedly left the meeting in anger, stating that he is categorically oppose to opening the school year “in the current situation”.

In a letter addressed to the army home front command, heads of several southern municipalities noted that “While we see opening of the school year as an important value which testifies to the strength of the civilian system in the face of the ongoing rocket attacks….we perceive the primary vulnerable point as being the transportation system, which for extended periods of time is on roads not protected by the Iron Dome”.

The Parents Forum in the Shaar Hanegev municipality has come out against the school year beginning as planned in Israel’s south. In a call issued under the heading “Peron goes first!”, parents conditioned arrival of their children to schools on government ministers joining them.

“Students of the area will get on buses on condition that the cabinet ministers, led by Peron, will get on and travel with them to school!” said the parents.

A final decision concerning opening of the school year will be taken early next week in accordance with directives of the army’s home front command.