NORTH
Two of the country’s top elected officials arrived in the North last week to lay the cornerstone for improvement work being done at the Golani Junction. At the end of the construction, the junction will become the Golani Interchange, with a higher speed limit, reduced traffic jams and shorter travel time for commuters and tourists.

Speaking at the ceremony, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu explained his vision for the road system in the North. “My vision is the creation of a high-quality and safe drive, without traffic lights, from Metulla and Kiryat Shmona all the way to Eilat.” Such a project, he said, was the most social and economic path – a nod to the country’s social justice protests.

“It is a vision that was born over 40 years ago, when I was a soldier and we would sit in traffic for hours. Building roads erases the gaps between the periphery and the Center,” he said.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz praised Netanyahu’s support for the project, noting that it led to an increase of its budget by NIS 27 million.

“The road and rail network create social and economic equality,” he said, adding that “as part of improving the national rail network, we plan to increase the trains’ speed through each planned project.”

Wilfrid Israel Museum offers Hol Hamoed activities
The Wilfrid Israel Museum at Kibbutz Hazorea announced activities for the whole family during Hol Hamoed, the intermediate days of Passover.

Among the activities – part of an exhibit called “Voices from the Ground” – are clay sculpting, “cardboard theater” and creating art with recycled materials. The activities will take place between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Entrance is NIS 25 per person.

Between April 8 and 14, the museum will open its doors to the public for free.

CENTER
Hundreds protest in Tel Aviv against Assad
At least 200 protesters assembled in a central Tel Aviv park to voice solidarity with the Syrian people over the weekend. Demonstrators called on Western nations to intervene in Syria to stop the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad from “slaughtering” members of opposition groups.

Some protesters carried signs that read, “Nearly 10,000 Syrians have been murdered, where is the United Nations?” More than 9,000 people have been killed in the past year as Assad’s forces cracked down on protests against his rule.

Meretz starts its own Shabbat transportation
As part of the ongoing battle to see public transportation run on Saturdays in Tel Aviv, the Meretz Party began running its own buses through the city last Shabbat. The bus ran from Jaffa in the south to Ramat Aviv Gimmel in the north, passing through Florentin, Hatikva, Rothschild Boulevard and Ibn Gvirol Street.

Last month, Tel Aviv-Jaffa city councilmen from Meretz passed a resolution to seek the operation of public transportation in the city on Saturdays. The party said it would continue to provide some public transportation for secular Israelis on Saturdays in various locales.

Meretz City Councilwoman Tamar Sandberg said of the initiative, “Meretz’s Shabbat Bus is the next stage in the struggle for public transportation on Shabbat. From the time that the city council passed my resolution, it was feared that the path to realizing [the introduction of public transportation on Shabbat] would be long, and through the public no less than through local and national government.” She went on to urge the public to pressure their elected officials to advance the initiative.

Overpaid arnona?
A check in the mail After years of being able to check online how much money they owe the city, Tel Aviv-Jaffa residents and business owners will now have an easy way to check whether the city owes them money.

At the beginning of April, residents and business owners will be receiving letters explaining the system for checking balances and owed moneys for past water and arnona (municipal tax) bills.

In the new system, those paying arnona and water in Tel Aviv-Jaffa can visit the municipality’s website or call its hotline to see if they have a credit. If a credit exists, it will be transferred directly into a bank account or paid by check. The municipality’s new website is www.tel-aviv.gov.il, and the hotline is *6545.

Ramat Gan names park after treasurer
The Ramat Gan Municipality dedicated and renamed a park in the city after longtime municipal Treasurer Haim Konvich, who is retiring this month.

Attending the dedication ceremony were Ramat Gan Mayor Zvi Bar, former defense minister Yitzhak Mordechai and former mayor Israel Feld, the Local website reported.

Konvich, 84, is a Holocaust survivor who rebuilt his family in Ramat Gan after the war and held the treasurer position for 40 years. Recently he became the country’s oldest municipal treasurer, according to the report.

At the ceremony, Bar addressed Konvich, saying nobody would ever understand what Holocaust survivors endured.

“The secret of freedom is courage of the heart, and you demonstrate bravery and courage of the heart and soul,” the website reported.

SOUTH
Eilat looks to serve its young residents better
Recognizing that nearly half of its population is made up of young people between the ages of 18 and 35 and that 75 percent of students in Eilat have moved away from their homes to study in the city, the Eilat Municipality has begun the process of building and developing centers and activities tailored to youngsters. The goals of the programs include increasing employment among young people, and improving higher education, social involvement, culture and leisure activities.

A planned youth center will provide 525 square meters where youngsters can receive counseling, lectures, food and other services.

Municipal deputy director-general Dr. Drori Ganiel said of the programs, “Being a youth is characterized by feelings of fear and uncertainty, which is natural when we remember that it is a period when major decisions are made – perhaps the most important decisions one makes in their life. Every young person worries about school, housing, employment, their career, identity and relationships, and we should be doing everything we can so that every youth on the starting line [of life] has the information, choices and freedom to choose and realize their potential.”

The center’s first activity was a preparatory course in February for soon-to-be-discharged soldiers. The workshops – a collaborative project of the Gross Fund for Released Soldiers, the Defense Ministry and Ben-Gurion University’s Eilat campus – focused on ensuring the soldiers had a “soft landing” in civilian life, emphasizing employment, education and learning their rights.

Eilat steps up measures against illegal businesses
The Eilat Municipality concluded an enforcement operation last week targeting illegal businesses in the city, part of a wider campaign to improve residents’ quality of life. Five unlicensed businesses were shut down in the joint operation by the municipality’s enforcement divisions, the Eilat Business Licensing Division of the Eilat District Police, and the municipality’s Business Licensing Division. The businesses were cited for operating in areas zoned for residential buildings, and most of them were targeted for selling alcoholic drinks. The businesses received administrative closure orders and will be served warrants for prosecution.

In addition to the operations against businesses, the municipality’s enforcement arm initiated legal proceedings against six property owners who rented out their villas and homes on a daily basis, constituting a nuisance to their neighbors, the city said in a statement.

Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevi declared, “We will continue to act with determination and uncompromising enforcement against lawbreakers, especially when it comes to illegal activities that disturb the peace and create nuisances for residents.”

Two five-year-olds injured in separate dog attacks
A five-year-old boy sustained moderate injuries when a dog attacked him in the Jessie Cohen neighborhood of Holon last week. Police impounded and quarantined the dog while they attempted to locate its owner. The boy was evacuated to the city’s Wolfson Medical Center.

The same week, a dog attacked a five-year-old girl at the Neot Ranch in the Negev over the weekend. Magen David Adom paramedics treated the girl, who suffered moderate injuries, and evacuated her to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, where she underwent surgery for facial injuries.

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