Eilat students kept out of school as parents protest integration of migrants’ children

Supreme Court ruling forces resort city to place 30 children in four schools

An illustrative photo of first-grade pupils and their teacher at Paula Ben Gurion school, Jerusalem, in August. (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)
An illustrative photo of first-grade pupils and their teacher at Paula Ben Gurion school, Jerusalem, in August. (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)

Some 300 children in the southern city of Eilat sat out classes on Sunday in protest of the city’s integration of migrant children into the education system.

The group of absentees made up half the student body at the Yovel Elementary School.

The parents who spearheaded the protest, members of the school’s parent teachers’ association, protested the Supreme Court’s recent decision to compel the city to incorporate children of asylum-seekers and migrant workers into its public institutions.

Last week, 30 children of migrants entered four schools across the city.

Parents reportedly fear that the integration of the new students will drain the school’s resources while posing a health risk for fellow students.

Roy Applebaum, head of the Yovel Elementary School’s PTA, gathered 300 signatures denouncing the Supreme Court decision Friday. The group is considering not sending the children to school Monday as well — although it’s doubtful such a large number would stay home again.

The PTA at another Eilat school, taking another tack, met with administration official Dr. Drury Gniel, who told them all the incoming children were vaccinated and said if more classes need to be opened, they’ll do so at another school, YNet news reported.

PTA head Guy Mueller told the media he respects the school’s decision and trusts that it will make the right moves to protect its students.

PTA members of another Eilat school, Rabin, are expected to hold an urgent meeting on the matter Monday. Parents were asked to welcome the new students, but they did not show up to do so.

The Eilat municipality said in a statement that it is acting according to the Supreme Court decision from August 27 by absorbing 30 students in four schools. The children will be put into different classes depending on their ages and the “Education Ministry will provide separate teaching staff and supplemental resources if necessary.”

The city pointed to the nearby Nof Eilot school, which has integrated migrants’ children into its system according to the Education Ministry’s guidelines for several years, as an example. The municipality said Nof Eilat’s integration served as a positive example of tolerance and acceptance of others.

Eilat is home to several thousand asylum-seekers and foreign workers, who primarily work in the service industry in the Red Sea resort town.

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