VG in the Middle East continues to shed light on grim reality for Israeli school kids

lifted from VG.

School kids learn to tackle rocket attacks

By Erlend Skevik Photo: Harald Henden

ASHDOD: Here, Israeli school kids rehearse how to seek protection from enemy rocket attack

All Israel is now preparing a new war that may come in the next few months. In recent weeks, the fighting between Israeli air forces and Palestinian groups in Gaza, and the tense relationship with Iran, has set the country on alert.

At a school in the port city of Ashdod, a group of fifth graders receive a thorough introduction to how to act if the school is subjected to an attack.

Practical exercises

Today’s theme is an attack with chemical weapons. Anna Gersjevich from the Home Front tells the details of how the children should protect themselves and what kind of food they can eat during an attack. At the same time she carefully explains the difference between various types of weapons and how they work. The pupils also receive a practical lesson in evacuation.

After the talk the conscript soldier goes from student to student to ensure that they have understood the instruction. Despite the dramatic message Gersjevich is not concerned that students will be frightened.

- We do not want to scare them, but this is part of their everyday lives. It is better that they are a little fearful than that they are unprepared when the attack comes, she says.

- Most students know very well what this is about, and we use their own experiences in classroom talks, she adds.

Nine Lessons

All fifth graders in Israel go through nine such lessons in the course of a year. Gersjevich confirms that the nature of teaching has changed considerably over the past year. Now it is no longer earthquake and fire is the main focus, but the rocket attacks and chemical warfare.

- We talk a lot about the current situation. We note that students are more engaged and interested in what happens. Some are obviously scared, but most are eager and seeking more knowledge, she says.

Also the rest of the country is now preparing for the war that may come. Wednesday, there was a great drill in Tel Aviv. Most people were unaware that the alarms would be tested, and panic broke out in the city when the sirens sounded on Wednesday morning, Haaretz writes.

- I stood in the shower when I heard the alarm, and thought missiles were about to hit us,  Erez Bernholtz said.

- Usually I try not to think too much about it, but today I had two terrifying minutes when I realized that the danger is real, he says.