Classes Resume, but Life in Katzrin Is Far From Back to Normal

For a few days now, most of the activities at the Nofei Golan school in Katzrin focused on social events and talks about the murder of 13-year-old Tair Rada, one of the students at the school, last week. Yesterday, they resumed classes. Still, more than 100 pupils, a fifth of the student population, opted to stay at home.

"Today I came to class because I promised a friend that I would accompany her," L., a student in 10th grade at Nofei Golan said. "Later, when I wanted to go back home, they would not let me, because you can only leave [school grounds] with a permit]. I am still afraid to go back to school, so long as the killer is still free, and I understand all the students who chose to stay at home."

L. said that she did not participate in classes during the day and preferred to sit and talk with her friends. "Many [students] are coming to school mostly to meet with the counselor [because] the fear is great," she explains.

Contrary to Sunday, yesterday the gates of the school were shut to the media and on the school grounds there was a noticeable presence of police and security guards.

"Attempts are being made to return to a normal academic schedule," they said at Katzrin. "Things are a bit more normal and the hope is that we will get back to it."

Education Minister Yuli Tamir is scheduled to visit the school today and meet with pupils.

Meanwhile, counselors are busy offering assistance to students.

At the same time, detectives specializing in work with teens continued to interview students.

A pupil said that many of the school's students were being called in for police interviews.

Yesterday, the police released the second person it had held in custody as a suspect in the murder. On Sunday police had released another suspect.

A serious debate emerged between parents and pupils yesterday over claims that many had blamed the school for "a policy of whitewashing in an effort to hide under the carpet various problems that emerged."

At a parents' gathering held on Saturday night at Katzrin, there were those who said that serious incidents of use and sale of narcotics, violence against girls, theft and thuggery, had been known to take place in the school.

"It is well-know that there is a mess at the school," L. said, "and this is mostly on the part of the pupils from the moshavs, who brought drugs, cigarettes and violence. But in all the cases to date, involving violence, the pupils would only be suspended. I remember cases in which threats were made at knife-point and the punishment for that was suspension from school."

Another student, Na'ama, was strongly opposed to the criticism leveled against the school's administration. "I never saw any incidents of drug use, or sex, alcoholism and violence," she says. "I do not understand the parents who raise these claims. After all, the minute they see a couple kissing in school, they are immediately scolded. If they claim that there are problems here, where were they before today? They saw [things] but kept quiet?"

Na'ama is from Moshav Levanim, which is not on the Golan Heights, but she opted for Nofei Golan over another school in the Jordan Valley.

"Most of those my age in the moshav opt to study at Nofei Golan," she explains.

"This is a school in which 80 percent of its pupils go to combat units. This is the best quality of youth there is," she insists.