Police have opened an investigation into the brutal murder of a woman in her 40s found dead in a bathroom stall at the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station on Tuesday morning.

Police were informed of the crime by the bus station’s security, who called dispatchers at 9 a.m. to report the discovery of a body in a pay bathroom on the station’s third floor.

Police summoned paramedics who rushed to the station only to pronounce the woman dead at the scene.

As of Tuesday afternoon, police were keeping a tight lid on the details of the investigation, issuing a strict media ban on their findings.

Tel Aviv’s much-maligned central bus station has suffered for years from a reputation as one of the least desirable locales in Israel. A concrete eyesore spanning 4.5 hectares (12 acres) next to the Neveh Sha’anan district, the bus station is associated with the vice and violent crime of the surrounding blocks and sidestreets of south Tel Aviv, a neighborhood most commonly- referred to as “the central bus station area.”

Violence has by no means been confined to the surrounding streets, however. In 2010, a 60-year-old Israeli man was murdered during a robbery in a store on the mall’s fourth-floor, and that same year, there were three cases of rape in the mall’s bathrooms and corridors.

The bus station’s mall was supposed to become the main shopping attraction in Tel Aviv when it opened in 1993, but most shoppers left years ago for Azrieli Mall and the Ayalon Mall in Ramat Gan, leaving the station as a destination only for bus commuters and residents of south Tel Aviv, particularly from the foreign worker population.

Today, throughout the complex, massive concrete expanses are neglected and vacant, with deserted corridors running off in all directions. The size of the complex and its location in Tel Aviv’s most-blighted district have made it a favorite haunt of junkies over the years.

Doron Benyamini, the head of security for the central bus station, said that despite the station’s image, most cases of violence in recent years have been in the area surrounding the bus station, and that most incidents inside the station have been confined to drunkenness or fistfights.

Benyamini, who runs a staff of 36 security guards, said the station has not seen an increase in violent incidents or calls for help in the past few years, as tens of thousands of illegal African migrants have moved to the neighborhoods surrounding the station.

Benyamini also said that the area where the body was found is one of those in the mall covered by CCTV cameras, and that police are currently checking the footage for any leads.

Nissim Shahar, 63, has run a small tailoring operation since the mall opened in 1993, located only a few meters from where Monday night’s murder took place.

Shahar blamed the bombings that took place near the bus station during the second intifada for driving off customers, adding that “it’s not fair; we get connected to every single bad thing that happens in south Tel Aviv.”

Shahar said that he and the rest of the businesses next to his only open around 10 a.m., and said that there are no shoppers around at the hour the body was found.

Angel Ya’acov, a store owner at the bus station, said Tuesday that “these incidents destroy things for us because people are terrified to come here.”

He added that the area had suffered from a bad image for years, mainly due to incidents such as this, but also, because of what he said is negative media coverage.

“The bus station is fine.

There are so many great businesses here, but the media always ruins it for us.”

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