Don’t bother calling 100 if you have an emergency in the near future in the city of Netivot, there may be no local police to assist you.
In one of the more bizarre disputes between public bodies, the entire Netivot police station may be evicted by the Netivot municipality if the civil division of the Southern District Attorney’s Office does not win its appeal to the Beersheba District Court filed – which was filed on Sunday.
The appeal is against an April 8 ruling of the Ashdod Magistrate’s Court for the police station to be evicted in the wake of an extended and unresolved land and financial dispute between the Netivot municipality and the police.
A Justice Ministry spokeswoman said that the dispute was extremely rare and that she was unaware of a similar ruling in the annals of the country’s history – though she was not certain that something similar had never occurred.
As part of the appeal, the state asked that the lower court’s eviction order, which was temporarily stayed until June 1, be suspended for a more extended period – until the full appeal is resolved.
The state argues in the appeal that evicting the police station, without providing for an alternative police station- location makes the lower court’s judgment fundamentally flawed and at odds with the Netivot public’s need for security and public order.
Next, the appeal states that Netivot should have agreed to maintaining a police station within its borders, but that the municipality used the eviction lawsuit as a “tactic” to pressure the police in the ongoing land and financial dispute, acting as if the absence of a police station “was not [of any] interest at all” to the city’s residents.
The land where the police station is located was given to the municipality by the Israel Lands Administration in 1979.
In 1992, the municipality rented the land on a longterm basis to the police for use as its central station – extendable every five years.
In 2008 the Netivot municipality asked the police to relocate to another area and the two sides negotiated a number of related issues, until 2011 when Netivot filed the underlying lawsuit.
Netivot claimed, and the lower court accepted, that the police and state had dragged out the negotiations and were not moving the process forward at a reasonable pace.
It added that the current location was inappropriate for a police station, even from the perspective of the police.
The state responded in its appeal that Netivot was making unreasonable financial demands on the state as part of the relocation negotiations and was improperly trying to “twist its arm” into accepting the demands by threatening to leave the city of 30,000 without any central police headquarters.
It criticized the lower court decision for ignoring the negative impact on the Netivot public in terms of security that would result from the eviction.