A heavily fortified school in the Israeli town of Sderot has opened its doors as students return for another year filled with the threat of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. It may very well be the world's first rocket-proof school building, designed to absorb and deflect rockets launched from the Hamas-ruled coastal territory, located only a few kilometers away.
Sha'ar Hanegev High School architect Yuval Geni
"The walls are very thick, the windows are very thick too, the glass is 12 millimeters thick, all the doors are protected, the roof is protected also, very, very thick, and as you can see around, we have elements that they are extensive from the facades of the building, their task is to deviate the missiles."
Rocket fire has decreased considerably in the past three years since Israel's three-week war against Gaza during the winter of 2008-2009, but attacks can still disrupt life for those living in Sderot. Just a day before students returned to school, several rockets hit an industrial zone near the town, damaging two factories.
Schooldays in the town are often interrupted by mad dashes to bomb shelters, since residents have only about 15 seconds to run for cover once a rocket is fired.
Nearly 500 rockets have been fired into Israel so far this year. For this school's principal, the challenge of living in such a vulnerable area is to teach students not to give into anger.
Aharele Rothstein, Principal of Sha'ar Hanegev High School: "If you ask me really, really what is our difficulty, it's to educate kids not to hate, because it's very easy to hate when you are located in a place like this. I'm educator, I'm not a general, I don't know what is meant to fight the other side, I only want, I'm dreaming that the kids will also have a dream that some time will be peace."
While students are still in danger while walking or bussing home after classes, the new fortified school is expected to provide teachers and parents a bit more peace of mind.