Jerusalem Kindergarten to Remain Closed Due to Fears It May Turn Into Hamas Terror Hub

Police Commissioner Danino says closure of kindergarten due concern over Najat association, which runs the kindergarten; security forces especially suspicious of two founders with terrorist past.

The Ahmed Sameh kindergarten in Jerusalem's Abu Tor neighborhood will not open this year, parents have learned. The kindergarten had remained closed for the first month of the school year under orders from Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino, who cited security reasons for the move.

All except one of the 64 children who were meant to attend the kindergarten have been at home this past month. Parents were told last week that the closure order has been extended for a year - to October 1, 2012.

Yohanan Danino - Daniel Bar-On - September 2011
Daniel Bar-On

Parents were informed of the problem only days before the school year was to start, when they found the building's gate welded shut and a closure order posted. The order stated that intelligence information showed there was a reasonable concern that the Najat association, which has been running the kindergarten for five years, would turn the building into a hub for Hamas terror activities.

The order said that the security forces were particularly suspicious of two Najat founders who have a terrorist past, one of whom had spent time in prison.

Frustrated parents, who have complained that it has been difficult to work because their small children are at home, have petitioned the High Court of Justice against the closure order, but have yet to receive a response. They also sent a petition with 121 signatures to Danino asking him to cancel the order, but to no avail.

The police said the closure had been extended after "examination and further study of the material collected by the security forces."

The Jerusalem Municipality said that while the Ahmed Sameh kindergarten was private, the city would try to find a solution for any child whose parents applied to the municipality.

Mahmoud Rabbah, the attorney representing the parents, said: "We believed from the start that the information the police have is mistaken, and we still believe so. We had hoped the police commissioner would not extend the order. We were surprised by this response, and by the fact that we have not received any specific reason for its extension."