Harish residents block Highway 65

Secular locals protest planned building of city for up to 150,000 haredim.

haredim kosher food 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
haredim kosher food 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Dozens of secular residents of the community of Harish were demonstrating on Highway 65 (Wadi Ara) on Sunday in protest of a government plan to build a large haredi city in the area.
Katzir-Harish is a municipality near Haifa bordering on the mostly Arab Wadi Ara area. Its residents claim a recently drafted plan to build the new city does not take into account a decision by the National Building and Planning Committee to build a city for only 50,000-60,000 inhabitants, as opposed to 150,000 as is specified in the draft.
Contrary to the specifications decreed by the National Building and Planning Committee at the behest of Harish’s secular residents, Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Atias (Shas) has tried to garner support for the larger scope of the plan. Interior Minister and Shas chairman Eli Yishai visited the area recently in an effort to boost government support for the draft.
About 1,000 residents live in the Harish area, but not all of them are secular – a religious Nahal commune is situated there. The new city will expand the small existing community by 1,000 dunams.
Later on Sunday, the government will debate the establishment of acommittee of government director-generals that would be charged with encouraging theconstruction of the planned city. “The community of Harish isdesignated as a place of residence for those of the religiouspersuasion as a meaningful and long-term solution to the severe housingshortage in that sector,” reads the bill set to be debated.
If established, the committee will be headed by the CEO of theConstruction and Housing Ministry and will include the CEOs of theIndustry and Trade, Interior, Education, Public Security and NationalInfrastructures ministries. It will be charged with “creating toolsthat will guarantee the implementation of the plan in the largestpossible scope in the shortest possible time.”
The demonstrators blocked the intersection at which the highwayconnects to Highway 6. As a result, traffic jams were reported in thearea.