Israeli policy barred school trips to site where 7 were massacred

JERUSALEM — A panel investigating last month's shooting deaths of seven Israeli schoolgirls by a Jordanian soldier has recommended that the head of the Education Ministry's security division be dismissed.

A Jordanian soldier opened fire March 13 on a group of Beit Shemesh students on a field trip to a border site, Naharayim, called "The Island of Peace."

The island was transferred to Jordan under the 1994 peace treaty, but the area, a popular tourist destination, is farmed by Israelis.

The committee, headed by Reserve Brig. Gen. Yigal Pressler, concluded that the Education Ministry's top security official had failed in carrying out his duties.

Pressler, a former anti-terror adviser to the prime minister, said that while thousands of students had visited Naharayim since Israel and Jordan signed the peace treaty, Education Ministry policy barred school trips there.

The committee said that the head of the ministry's security division, Shlomo Tzudkavitz, should have followed the policy.

The committee further recommended an administrative reprimand to Moshe Yablovitz, the principal of the Beit Shemesh school.

Education Minister Zevulun Hammer said he would adopt the panel's recommendations.