Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Shay Piron welcomed the new school year with students in Israel's south on Monday. Netanyahu and Piron began their visit at a new religious elementary school in Sderot, and later continued to a school at the Merhavim Regional Council.
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Netanyahu told the students he "knows you had a different [summer] vacation than you had planned," adding, "We are the people of the book, and now the people of the tablet, too. We cling to our heritage and hold on to the future."
He urged the pupils to show curiosity for knowledge, "for the sake of the people of Israel, for the State of Israel, for the land of Israel, for you and your families. We will make sure you acquire knowledge and make sure you are secure."
Also on Monday, President Reuven Rivlin visited schools in communities near the Gaza border. Rivlin planted a tree together with schoolchildren in Kibbutz Saar, near a spot where a rocket exploded.
"When I see us here, planting a tree in the school yard at a place where a rocket fell," Rivlin said, "when I see us busy with building and creating, deepening our knowledge and studying the Torah, I know we will not be beaten so fast."