CBN Israel Sponsors Five New Bomb Shelters Allowing Children to Go Back to Daycare

By Nicole Jansezian

Israelis desperate to return to routine since the Israel-Hamas war broke out in October encountered many obstacles not the least of which was whether buildings were equipped with bomb shelters.

Ilanit Gindi, who runs a private nursery school serving more than 100 children in central Israel, discovered this when she wanted to reopen a few weeks after the war began. Israel’s Homefront Command prohibited her and many others from operating their schools because they didn’t have protected spaces.

Daycare in Israel is not government subsidized for kids up to 3 years old, and so most of these private establishments do not have the advantage of public benefits such as bomb shelters.

“In order to install two bomb shelters in each nursery it would cost me hundreds of thousands of shekels,” Ilanit said. “And if I had to do it on my own, I would not be able to open the day care.”

Near the coast in central Israel, Rishon LeZion was one of the heaviest bombed cities absorbing the third highest number of rockets in the weeks after October 7.

“Rishon LeZion was under fire and it was extremely dangerous,” said the manager of Gan Anglit (English Daycare). “There were many missiles that impacted the city, and we were even hit here. We found a large piece of shrapnel on one of the climbing toys.”

With the weight of the situation and her son being called up to reserve duty to the war in Gaza, Ilanit realized she was sinking into depression and determined she needed to get back to work.

“I started to think of ways I could reopen for the kids, their parents, and my staff,” she said.

Ilanit found a less-than-ideal temporary solution, renting rooms in a community center. But with cramped space she had to limit the number of staff and hence the number of children that could come back. That also meant less income despite higher expenses.

Alice, head of CBN Israel’s Victims of Terror department, empathized with these parents’ concerns—especially since she herself is a mother of two young children.

Alice has long been part of CBN Israel’s efforts to provide bomb shelters in public spaces throughout Israel. But building five bomb shelters for private daycares presented some new and interesting challenges.

She learned an important lesson: Not all bomb shelters are created equal.

“The rockets that are being fired into central Israel from Gaza—60 to 80 kilometers away—are much heavier and stronger than the ones being fired into the Gaza envelope, which is only 7 to 10 kilometers away.”

Because Rishon LeZion is much further from the Gaza border, the construction of these bomb shelters did not fit the typical formula.

“We had to have the shelters custom made in order to achieve a certain thickness of the walls. The shelters had to have air filters, AC, and electricity. All of the bomb shelters have to be built to a certain standard to meet the requirements of the Homefront Command,” she said.

In fact, these new bomb shelters were so much heavier than usual the installation also required cranes to lift them over buildings and into place.

But the installation was a game changer for dozens of families and an entire neighborhood.

“From the moment that Alice said this is possible, I felt for the first time in a long time that I could see the light at the end of the tunnel and smile and be happy again,” Ilanit said.

CBN Israel enabled many families to return to work with renewed peace of mind, Alice noted.

“Parents want to feel safe and want to know their kids are safe,” she said. “The emotional burden of sirens and war and the fear is overwhelming. I praise God and thank every CBN Israel partner for thinking of the kids here and the families here.”

Ilanit said the shelters will also provide protection for the neighbors who live nearby in unprotected homes.

“I feel so safe now and I’m not worried,” she said. “If something happens, my staff are protected, and the parents will not be worried. This gives me enormous confidence to open the daycare every morning and to be able to ensure the protection of everyone—the children and my staff.”

Despite coming under frequent rounds of rocket fire in the south and the north, some 60% of Israeli apartments do not have a shelter, according to a real estate database in Israel.

Nicole Jansezian is the media coordinator for CBN Israel. A long-time journalist, Nicole was previously the news editor of All Israel News and All Arab News and a journalist at The Associated Press. On her YouTube channel, Nicole gives a platform to the minority communities in Jerusalem and highlights stories of fascinating people in this intense city. Born and raised in Queens, N.Y., she lives in Jerusalem with her husband, Tony, and their three children.

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