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As communities across the country grapple with school shootings, a widely-shared Facebook post suggests the United States should use Israel as a role model.
"School shooting Israel 1974," the Aug. 13 post says. "They began training teachers with guns. There have been only two school shootings in 44 years, and both shooters were killed by teachers. Have we learned anything yet, America?"
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The post is both wrong about arming teachers, and wrong about how shooters were killed. Let’s break down the Facebook post’s claims.
In 1974, more than 20 students were killed when Palestinian guerillas held students hostage in a school in Ma’alot, Israel. The Palestinians were killed "in a bloody gun battle" after Israeli soldiers raided the school building.
But, as the Associated Press reported in 2012, Israel didn’t mandate armed guards at the entrances to all schools until 1995, more than two decades after the Ma’alot attack and two years after a Palestinian militant injured students and a principal in a knifing attack at a school.
That same article, which challenges a statement by NRA chief Wayne LaPierre that’s similar to the one in this Facebook post, notes that, in 2012, Israeli authorities could only recall two school shootings in the past four decades.
In 2008, eight people, most of them teens, were killed when a Palestinian assailant attacked them at a nighttime study session at a Jewish religious seminary in Jerusalem. But that assailant was killed by an off-duty soldier who happened to be in the area, according to the AP — not a teacher.
Searching this list kept by the Israel Ministory of Foreign Affairs of "Palestinian terror and incitement" since September 2000, another shooting happened in 2002 when three yeshiva high school students were killed at their Orthodox school by a Palestinian gunman before he was shot dead by a security guard — not a teacher.
That’s because, by policy, teachers are not armed in Israeli schools, the Washington Post reported in February 2018.
"Professionals deal with security," the Post quotes Amos Shavit, a spokesman for Israel’s Ministry of Education, as saying. "Not the teachers."
The newspaper notes that while school shootings are virtually unheard of in Israeli schools, that’s in large part because of the country’s efforts to combat terrorism, not the school shooters the United States has become familiar with.
Shavit said the guards stationed at schools are under the authority of police, according to the Post, and in large cities law enforcement carry out security patrols around educational institutions during the school day.
Israeli security experts also say gun violence is rare there because privately held guns are so rare, the Post story says. It quotes Simon Perry, a criminologist at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, saying there is little opportunity for someone to carry out a gun attack inside a school. Though most people in Israel go into the military and receive some weapons training, he said, "it is very, very hard to obtain a weapon in Israel."
We rate this Facebook post False.
Facebook post, Aug. 13, 2019
The Associated Press, West Bank massacre; decades of violence, Feb. 26, 1994
The New York Times, Maalot, badly scarred, is still in limelight, July 13, 1974
The New York Times, Arabs seize Israeli school, hold 90 children hostage, May 15, 1974
The Associated Press, Israel rejects NRA’s guns-in-schools claim, Dec. 24, 2012
BBC, 1974: Dozens die as Israel retaliates for Maalot, visited Oct. 1, 2019
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Palestinian terror and incitement, visited Oct. 1, 2019
FactCheck.org, Meme gets Israel gun laws wrong, Sept. 25, 2019
The Washington Post, Why school shootings are so rare in Israel, where guns are such a common sight, Feb. 22, 2018
New York Post, Teen terror victims — gunman kills 3 Yeshiva students, May 29, 2002
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