This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Bomb-Shelter Schools in Israel

"They [Civil Protection Division, IDF] are building all the time [new bomb-proof schools]."
"We have had several [rocket] hits on some of the schools, some of the kindergartens, we had nearby hits and several direct hits. But nothing happened. The protection paid off."
"No one wants to build like that. No one wants their child to be in a place like that [border villages in Israel close to the Gaza Strip]. But they also don't have a threat like that [other countries, elsewhere in the world]."
Lt. Col. Ghassan Tarif, head, Engineering Branch, Civil Protection Division, IDF Home Front Command
Hila Fenlon, 38, farmer, Netiv Ha'asara, Israel
A decorated bomb shelter stands beside a basketball court at a school built from reinforced concrete in the Israeli town of Sderot March 27, 2014. (REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly)
Interested in finding online sources through an Internet search engine for the new schools that are being built near the Gaza border with Israel, to shelter Israeli children from never-ending incoming rockets, and countless sources pop up all focusing on Israeli forces bombing schools in Gaza when the Israel Defence Forces entered Gaza in 2009 determined to put an end to the Qassam rockets hitting Israeli towns. Hamas used the schools as it did hospitals and densely crowded neighbourhoods to mount attacks across the border into Israel and to store weapons within, including UN schools.

It's a little harder to inform the search engine what, precisely, to look for if you're curious about the defences Israel is undertaking to protect Israeli children from incoming rocket fire. Bear in mind that the IDF entered Gaza after years and thousands of rockets in provocation threatening the safety of Israeli towns and the people living in them. And that Hamas makes a special virtue out of using Palestinians and civic institutions as living shields. When Israel strikes back and there are casualties it's a sympathetic win-situation for Hamas which then accuses Israel of brutality, to the international community.

But make no mistake, it is the determination of Hamas to terrify Israelis and to cause death and pain and destruction in the greater interest of their mandate to destroy the presence of an Israeli nation on land that Hamas means to reinstate as Arab Palestinian territory undisturbed by the presence of any nation but that of one claimed by Palestinians. So Israeli children living in towns in rocket-distance from Gaza become accustomed to running for their lives; literally. They have all of five seconds after an alarm to find shelter. That is the clearance time: five seconds.

Israel's voluntary unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 resulted in the Strip's domination by Hamas. The move by Israel was meant to free Israel from its constant attempts to pacify Palestinians and to live amongst them, giving Palestinians the opportunity to govern themselves civilly and to reach prosperity by their own efforts in becoming responsible for their welfare. Instead chaos ensued and crime soared and tribal and ideological conflict arose until Hamas expelled all Fatah militias and took control. Then concentrated its efforts on destroying Israel while manipulating Gazans' lifestyles.

Since 2005 when Hamas became the de facto rulers in Gaza, over 11,000 rockets were fired into Israel. Each time the IDF enters Gaza to defend its population against the increasingly more powerful rockets, a hudna results, a respite from fighting allowing Hamas the opportunity to rebuild its tunnel system and its weapons arsenals and its Arab support, before setting off on another round of deadly challenges to Israel and its citizen. As the sole country in the world that has been forced to construct children's schools as doubles for bomb shelters, the public relations employed by Palestinians succeeds internationally in painting Israel as the aggressor, the Palestinians their victims.
A decorated bomb shelter sits in a playground at a school built from reinforced concrete in the Israeli town of Sderot March 27, 2014. (REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly)

In those bomb-shelter schools children from pre-Kindergarten through college age are offered physical, if not psychological security. Wherever they happen to be when a rocket alarm goes off they are protected; they are already in the bomb shelters that double as schools, and there are over 200 such bomb shelter schools built in the geography around the east and north Gaza borders with more in the process of being built. Although these schools look like typical schools they are fortified, capable of withstanding heavy explosions.

There are 50,000 residents living in 66 villages and towns in what is called the Gaza Division in Israel, and all those 66 villages and towns have bomb shelters. In homes, in workplaces, in schools. The government has mandated and funded fully fortified schools since 2007. Any schools as far as 6 kilometres from the border with Gaza are paid for by the government. Living with the constant threat of rockets being fired, the impact on children's psychological health is predictable.

Hila Fenlon of Netiv Ha'asara  speaks of the new bomb shelter in their home, closer to the bedrooms.
The cost for a home shelter is in the range of $20,000 to $30,000 and theoretically will be funded by government. She estimates that if every home in her village with its 700 people upgraded their shelters, the cost to the state would come to $6-million. But this is the cost in every sense, to a nation whose existence has been militarily threatened and contested since its 1948 introduction to the world community as a Jewish state.

It's well known that Palestinians living in Gaza experience their own version of misery, given the extrajudicial killings carried out by Hamas, validated by Amnesty International. Any Palestinians suspected of having given information to or acting on Israel's behalf or collaborating in any shape or form is tortured to death or summarily executed in public. And Hila Fenlon feels that families like her own, living on the opposite side of the border experience their own misery; wanting peace they live in terror of their own rulers.

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