Former J'lem mayor decries service cutoff

Miller condemned city's decision to cut services to haredim.

haredi police 311 (photo credit: Tsafrir Abayov)
haredi police 311
(photo credit: Tsafrir Abayov)
Former Jerusalem deputy mayor Haim Miller on Thursday condemned the city’s decision to cut off municipal services to haredi neighborhoods of the capital amidst rioting that flared up there earlier in the week in response to the removal of graves near Ashkelon’s Barzilai Hospital to make room for a new emergency ward.
Miller, who now heads the “For Jerusalem and its Residents” organization, which acts as a liaison between the haredi community and government bodies, said in a statement that leading rabbis from his movement had also denounced the rioting, and labeled the “burning of trash cans... a terrible desecration of God’s name, and a theft of public funds. 
“But just as it is forbidden and reckless to burn garbage bins,” Miller said, “it is also forbidden and reckless for the Jerusalem Municipality and Egged to stop providing basic services to these neighborhoods.”
Both the municipality and the bus company decided to temporarily halt services to certain areas of the capital after the violent protests flared up in and around Mea She’arim on Sunday.
While protests took place at construction sites in Ashkelon and in Jaffa, resulting in dozens of arrests, the rioting that broke out in Jerusalem was by far the most severe and caused the most damage.
The municipality estimated that around NIS 1 million in property damage had been incurred during the night of rioting, which saw municipal employees attacked, traffic lights shattered, vehicles damaged and the burning of trash cans.
While services remained cut off Monday, they were restored before the onset of Shavuot on Tuesday and have been operating normally since.
Nonetheless, the city has clearly stated that further violence will again bring the cessation of municipal services, and reiterated that point Thursday in response to Miller’s statement.
“The rationale behind the cessation of services is the violence perpetrated against our employees and damage done to city property,” a Jerusalem Municipality spokesperson said. “We won’t send our people into the neighborhoods when their safety is in jeopardy or when the threat of violence is there.”
The city also responded with a previous statement made by Mayor Nir Barkat: “Jerusalem municipality workers make extraordinary efforts to provide better services to residents of [these] neighborhoods, but in cases where municipal workers lives are endangered, the city will not hesitate to stop these services until calm has been restored.”