Florida lawmakers get firsthand look at Israeli school safety

Under Israeli law, every school must have fence with single point of entry

By Mike Vasilinda - Tallahassee Bureau Chief

TEL AVIV, Israel - A group of Florida lawmakers spent part of Monday morning touring a 600-student middle school in the heart of Tel Aviv. What they found was fences, a system of coordinated security and quick response times.

At Ariel University in the West Bank, heavily armed security was beefed up for Gov. Ron DeSantis' visit. But security is a reality for every school, as lawmakers making the trip found out firsthand.

Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, who is in line to be speaker of the Florida House, wants a serious look at a single point of entry for every school.

"What I saw today was a very controlled environment where you had one area of ingress and egress from the school," Sprowls said. "We visited a middle school here in Tel Aviv. That gate is secured.”

Lawmakers said there is plenty to bring home from the trip.

Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, who represents Parkland, asked questions about age-appropriate training. 

“We’re talking about 3- and 4-year-olds knowing how to access a bomb shelter, " Book said. "What does that mean? What does that look like? That is a part of life here.”

While Israeli schools may have students with mental health issues, Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, said they confront students early on.

“Over here, they’re not afraid to call out bad behavior," Fine said. "Part of what we saw with Nikolas Cruz was a culture of trying to look the other way, and that was entirely preventable had government done the right thing in advance. They don’t have those issues over here.”

And the security lawmakers viewed firsthand has kept the country of 9 million from having any serious attack on its schools since the early 1970s.

Under Israeli law, every school must have a 6-foot-high fence with a single point of entry, not including emergency exits.

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