But they did not return to normality
The children of Kibbutz Beeri, which Hamas launched an attack on October 7they made their way to school again.
But there is nothing “normal” about this return to the classrooms of students who buried their own people.
“There were 17 students in my class. We are now 15, two killed“, 15-year-old Lotan Ron told AFP. In the largest class, there are only ten: three students are held hostage, two are killed.
Kibbutz Beeriwith its 1,200 inhabitants, is less than five kilometers from the border with the Gaza Strip.
At least 85 people were killed there and another 30 were kidnapped.
The survivors were evacuated from their homes, as were all the residents of the attacked communities. Those of Beeri have been living for a month in hotels on the shores of the Dead Sea, at a distance of 100 kilometers from their neighborhoods.
On November 8, students gradually began to return to schoolo, in prefabricated rooms converted into classrooms, near their temporary residences. In the makeshift courtyard, young people take a walk, others talk on their mobile phones.
“It’s not a normal school. Even teachers carry deep psychological wounds. The professors, the psychologists, nobody had experienced anything like this before and nobody really knows what to do with usLotan Ron said.
Classes last only three hours each day. The children are taught math, language but most of the time they mainly talk. “We’re trying to learn, but nobody can concentrate,” said Lotan Ron.
For the 15-year-old, who said he felt “an emptiness”, the real cure was being reunited with his friends. Five of his close friends were killed.
“At a friend’s funeral I was wondering why I didn’t see another one of my friends there and then I realized he had been killed too“, he narrated.
27-year-old Nadav Kippins asked himself to help the children of this special school.
His parents were killed in the attack, seven members of his family are being held hostage. “Some children have lost everything and wonder why they should go to school. Nothing matters anymore. It’s hard to make sense of anything,” he summed up.
Under the watchful eye of their teacher, 12-year-old students respond to letters sent to them by New York residents after October 7. Many children have dark circles under the eyes, their facial features are drawn.
For Miri Gad Mesica, a 45-year-old marketing consultant and mother of three children, ages 9, 14 and 15, going back to school is worth it because it gets the kids back into “a kind of daily schedule.”
So far “they sat in bed, or in their room, bored and waited“, he said.
On October 7, her family escaped by jumping from the second floor of the building where they lived, which was set on fire by Hamas. For this mother, it is not yet time to think about the future of her children.
“My daughter’s best friend was not buried because she has not yet been identified. So, no, I don’t have a plan at the moment“, he said.
The primary school is also reopening, in a village a little further away. 10-year-old Tom Gaz, who says she doesn’t like school, but feels it’s good for her: “If we stay in the hotel and do nothing, we’ll never recover,” she said. The girl, who was locked in the “panic room” of the family’s home for 20 hours, says she is still scared. “I’m trying to prepare for a new attack. If the terrorists come, should I jump out of the window?’ he wonders.
At school, she mostly likes… recess. “We try to act, not to talk about what we experienced because for some children, who lost their family, it is very difficult,” he explained.
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