75 Percent of Students Show Up for Class After Tense Night in Gaza Border Area

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Smoke rises after Israel carried out an airstrike over Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Gaza border community residents experienced their most difficult night Tuesday since Operation Protective Edge ended in 2014. Over 100 rockets were fired at surrounding communities, with Red Alert sirens sounding seemingly every few minutes from sundown Tuesday to dawn Wednesday, with the last rocket fired at 5:15 a.m. One rocket scored a direct hit on a home in the area of the Eshkol Regional Council. There were no injuries, but there was damage to the house.

While Wednesday was quiet compared to the situation a day earlier, residents remained concerned over the possibility of renewed rocket attacks. The Education Ministry decided to hold classes as usual on Wednesday, although field trips to sites within 15 kilometers of the Gaza border fence were canceled. Education Minister Naftali Bennett, on a tour of schools in the border area Wednesday morning, said that as of 9:15 a.m., “75 percent of students are in class, and studies are proceeding as usual. Residents experienced a difficult night, but despite that, three quarters of students are in class at 9:15 a.m. I am hopeful more will come.” Earlier, Eshkol Regional Council head Gadi Yarkoni had said that “if half the children show up for school Wednesday we can consider that a success.”

Yarkoni said Wednesday that his staff was “preparing to deal with the responses of our children to the events they experienced. Social workers and psychologists are prepared to assist all those who need help, who are experiencing fear or other negative phenomena. The IDF Chief of Staff, on a visit here, promised that the IDF is committed to ensuring that quiet is restored to the area. We support the IDF, and support any method it chooses to use in order to accomplish this.”

In a statement, the IDF said that Israeli forces hit 25 “high-value” targets in Gaza overnight Tuesday, including weapons warehouses, a warehouse where drones were stored, workshops for the construction of rockets and motors, advance-weapons workshops, terror training camps, and other sites.

Security sources said Wednesday that while there was no official ceasefire in place, Israel would not renew its attacks on Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets if the terror groups did not attack Israel. However, the sources said, “Israel has sent a message to the groups that if the fire from Gaza is renewed, Israel will strike back more strongly against Hamas and its followers. Their actions will dictate what happens next.”

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