Twelfth-grade students from Herzliya's Hayovel High School took part in a simulated shooting attack in which the targets were figures decked out with the Arab keffiyeh headdress, Haaretz has learned.
The incident took place at a military base last week during the annual 12th grade trip. The students were being escorted to a commanders' base in the Negev as part of an "IDF preparation" project, which is sanctioned by the Education Ministry.
According to a person familiar with the details, the event was tantamount to "educating toward hatred of Arabs."
"Some citizens of the State of Israel wear keffiyehs," the source said. "Now they are viewed as legitimate targets for a shooting simulation."
The trip concluded on Thursday. In a notice that was sent to parents, the school said that "the course of the trip is an inseparable part of the educational curriculum in general, and the 'IDF preparation' in particular."
The first day of the trip included "activities with soldiers in commanders' school," according to the notice. The students met with soldiers on the base and heard lectures about the army and the importance of conscription.
During one of the discussions, the students were told that whoever does not serve in a combat unit "does not perform meaningful service."
During the visit to the base, some of the students took part in an "electronic shooting range," a computer-generated simulation that recreates a setting in which a soldier uses a laser-guided weapon to shoot targets. According to sources, the images in the electronic shooting range were outfitted with keffiyehs.
"From what I understood, the boys were more excited about this visit than the girls, some of whom preferred not to take part," said the parent of one student on the trip. "I don't think that it's the education system's job to train students to shoot."
The "IDF preparation" project usually entails the visit of army officers to schools as well as occasional class trips to army bases for educational and instructional activities. This is believed to be one of the first times a visit to an army base has included students' participation in a military activity. Children who are eligible for conscription usually undergo introductory military training as part of "Gadna Week," which is not under the purview of the school system.
A school official said that the use of an electronic simulator that depicted a target wearing a keffiyeh "is certainly problematic, but this is a wider and more fundamental issue than our visit to the base. We have no intention of teaching the students to shoot people with keffiyehs."
The Education Ministry did not issue a comment as of press time.