Islamic Jihad - AP - 2008
Masked Palestinian militants from Islamic Jihad placing homemade rockets before later firing them into Israel on the outskirts of Gaza City. Photo by AP
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Mayors Ruvik Danilovich of Be’er Sheva and Yehiel Lasri of Ashdod closed the schools in their cities yesterday, keeping some 100,000 schoolchildren at home following the two Grad rockets fired at the south Saturday night.

The mayors’ decision went against the express directives of the Home Front Command. However, Lasri said, “Following the rocket fired on Be’er Sheva and without Iron Dome, we cannot risk more than 50,000 students.”

In Netivot, where one of the rockets fell, as well as in Ofakim and other towns, school was held as usual. Netivot Mayor Yehiel Zohar said the decision to close the schools was the purview of the Home Front Command and that “the safest place for the children is school and not in the homes, which are not protected.”

The council head of the small community of Omer near Be’er Sheva, Pini Dabash, who also decided to close his schools yesterday, said he did so because the moment Be’er Sheva schools are closed, “the domino effect kicks in and teachers don’t come to school in Omer either ... And if I close, they don’t go to school in Meitar either,” referring to another small community near Omer.

“The Home Front Command said it was no problem to keep the schools open. The moment Danilovich made his decision he disrupted classes in Omer as well. The Home Front Command should not allow the mayors to decide. It has to decide, because the mayors will always make the ‘less dangerous’ decision,” Dabash said.

Some parents in Ashdod were unhappy with the mayor’s decision to close the schools. “No rockets were aimed at Ashdod. In Netivot, of all places, schools were open because they have to maintain routine. The children should have gone to school. It’s inconceivable that every time a rocket falls in the south the schools close,” said Ashdod resident Moti Algrabli.