Despite official calls to station guards outside the country’s preschools in the wake of the current wave of terror, most Israeli preschools still do not have security guards, and in those that do it is often because parents are paying for the service.
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Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry and local governments are engaged in a blame game.
Since 2005, preschools with over 100 children as well as those in “high-risk” locations have had guards. But most state preschools do not fall into these categories.
In October, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon ordered the allocation of funds for the purpose to local governments. The treasury intended to cover 70% of the cost for wealthier communities and 100% for poor ones. Local governments were to coordinate security with the police.
The additional guards will cost tens of millions of shekels a month.
But cities aren’t ready for the new situation, and are facing a shortage of armed guards.
Security companies charge 60 shekels to 75 shekels ($15-$19) an hour for unarmed guards, and 80 shekels to 110 shekels for an armed guard. Due to the shortage of armed guards, some preschools are being protected by guards armed with pepper spray and a baton.
Many parents say they are uneasy.
Tzipi Brand, a Tel Aviv councilwoman with four children, said in some preschools parents paid 150 shekels a month each to hire a security guard privately.
“What if the parents can’t pay?” she asked. “Furthermore, there are parents who prefer for these things to be arranged by the authorities. We’ve been in a complex security situation since October, and the city isn’t seeing to regular security guards.”
A Ra’anana man says there’s no guard at his children’s preschool, and that parents were very stressed.
“There were three terror attacks in Ra’anana, one of them near the preschool,” he said. Since the terror wave began, parents have complained to the city repeatedly and have held protests, he said.
Tel Aviv Deputy Mayor Asaf Zamir said the treasury did not add funding for guards at preschools with fewer than 100 children, while the Givatayim municipality said in a response that while Kahlon’s statement had been reported in the media, the Education Ministry did not issue instructions on the issue. In Rishon Letzion, meanwhile, city hall said stated that the main problem was finding available security guards, not paying for them.