GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – Some half million Gaza children made a delayed return to school on Sunday after a devastating 50-day war with Israel that killed more than 2,100 Palestinians and damaged hundreds of school buildings.
Gaza Education Ministry official Ziad Thabet said the opening is for 230,000 1st to 12th graders attending public schools, 200,000 going to United Nations-run schools and tens of thousands enrolled in private institutions.
The opening was delayed for two weeks because of damage to schools and the diversion of UN school buildings for use as temporary centres to house tens of thousands of displaced people. Some 50,000 people are still being housed in the UN schools, the UN Palestinian refugee agency said.
Early Sunday the Gaza City streets were crowded with children dressed in a broad array of school uniforms, many accompanied by parents or older siblings.
In the Al-Zaitoun boys elementary school, students pasted stickers with the names of fellow students killed during the war, as teachers struggled to cope with the badly damaged facilities – a hole in a ceiling here, a partially collapsed wall there.
“I’m not as excited coming to school as I was in the past,” said student Tamar Toutah, 11. “I feel that something is missing. I asked about my fellow students, but some were killed or wounded.”