Israeli police give second grade class weapons demonstration

Israeli police give second grade class weapons demonstration
A group of 8-year-old children at a Tel Aviv school were shown how to use crowd control weapons over the weekend, raising concern over the militarisation of Israel's school syllabus.
3 min read
09 March, 2016
Israeli society is becoming increasingly militarised [AFP]
Weapons used for "crowd control" including stun grenades, pepper spray and Tasers were part of a "show and tell" presentation given to eight-year-old Israeli children from a school in Tel Aviv on Sunday.

The community policing day was a "reward" by Israeli border police to pupils from the Tel Nordau School for winning a prize in a civic awareness competition.

The news has increased existing fears within Israeli society and beyond about the "militarisation" of Israel's school syllabus.

The school said the presentation was aimed at increasing "students' feeling of being protected," Israeli dailyHaaretz reported on Tuesday.

Israeli border police showed the second grade pupils how to use Tasers, pepper spray, stun grenades, gas grenades, among other weapons.

The children were also introduced to "sponge-tipped bullets" and other forms of ammunition, with a number of children invited to hold gas-grenade launchers and other weapons, Haaretz reported.

Reaction from parents of the pupils highlighted increasing disquiet at the close association between Israel's security and military services and the national schooling system.

"Before the children learn about the right to demonstrate, they're shown what is used against those who dare to demonstrate" a mother of one of the pupils said, according to Haaretz.

"We're so used to hearing about stun grenades, gas grenades and tear gas that only a few think there's any problem with showing these weapons to second-graders," another added.

A recent study by the Centre for Research on Globalisation found that Israeli teachers believe the army and the schools work hand in hand.

Satisfaction with the presentation from other parents however indicated the split within Israeli society regarding the interaction between the military and young pupils.

"I have nothing against weapons, and the intentions were good: to give the students a feeling of safety, of being protected, to give them the feeling that someone is guarding them," a parent said said. 

"Perhaps the display of weapons was a bit excessive, but the activity had other elements. It's also impossible to forget that this is the complex reality we live in."

Concerns about the militarisation of Israeli students has been voiced by a number of liberal Israeli organisations as well as international NGOs.

A recent study by the Centre for Research on Globalisation found that Israeli teachers believe the army and the schools work hand in hand.

The Canadian-based NGO raised concerns over the situation, stating that it will "only get worse" under the current Education Minister Naftali Bennet.

Bennet, who took over Israel's Education ministry in 2015, is also the head of the Jewish Home, the settler movement's far-right party.

Last month, Bennet strongly backed alterations made to a central school textbook that imposed "Jewish values" and showed discrimination against Arabs.

Three authors of the high school civics book protested against alterations made to their work, with one quitting in protest.

The chapters were altered "beyond recognition" to include a stark nationalist slant.

Bennet said there was no reason to apologise for instilling the country's youth with what he considers to be Jewish values.