After a two day delay, the school year in Israel has officially been opened, sending 1,423,840 children and 123,000 teachers to begin the 5767 school year, including schools in the north, where children are returning to their schools hit by rockets only a short time ago.
Schools in Sderot and the western Negev will not be opened today because not all classrooms have been bomb-proofed yet. Another 42 schools were not opened today across Israel because of local disputes. Over the weekend, several other disputes were resolved including providing ample security and protection to the schools, and a compromise regarding teacher retirement quotas.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spoke this morning at the year-opening ceremony of Ort High School in the northern city of Maalot-Tarshiha and said that “The fact that we are opening the school year in the north with no major problems, is a testament to the resolve of the Israeli people.”
Earlier, Olmert, accompanied by Education Minister Yuli Tamir visited an elementary school in the town of Maona in the Galilee and wished the students a happy and fruitful school year. The visit to the school in Maona is significant because it is the same school kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit attended before his military service. The students asked PM Olmert to do everything in his power to bring him, and the two other soldiers, back home soon.
In the Palestinian Authority, however, schools were not opened yesterday, the first day of their school year due to a general teachers strike. The teachers are refusing to open the schools because of unpaid salaries to them and other government workers who have not been paid for several months.
This is the first general strike in the Palestinian Authority since the Hamas-led government took office in March. The Fatah movement in the Palestinian Authority is blaming Hamas for this predicament saying that they have brought the international sanctions on them by not honoring international agreements signed by the previous Fatah administration.