Netanyahu presents NIS 130 million plan to save Lod

New plan will focus on security in the city, which recently faced a wave of murders, and will also attempt to draw new residents.

BORDER POLICE Lod 311 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu will on Sunday present to the cabinet for approval a plan to spend NIS 130 million to bring much-needed relief to the blighted central city of Lod, in the wake of a string of murders that have left residents of the city shaken.
Netanyahu’s bureau said Thursday the plan includes NIS 10 million to beef up efforts to fight violent crime over the next year, with a special emphasis on getting illegal firearms off the streets. As part of the program, a network of surveillance cameras will be affixed across the city and a control center will be opened to monitor the footage.
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The city of Lod, only 15 km southeast of Tel Aviv, has been on the front pages of Israeli newspapers recently as three residents were murdered over just the past month, including two over the span of 30 hours.
Two of the victims included women shot to death in front of their children.
Residents and community activists have repeatedly cited what they say is a culture of lawlessness brought on by the city’s decaying infrastructure and an insufficient police presence as reasons for the spike in violence.
If approved, the plan will funnel NIS 30m. to upgrade infrastructure in the declining neighborhoods in the city center. The plan will also push for enforcement of laws against illegal construction, which is very prevalent in the city’s predominantly Arab neighborhoods of Rekevet, Pardes Snir and Ramat Eshkol.
Parts of the Pardes Snir neighborhood will receive legal status and improved infrastructure if the plan is approved. In addition, the program will reportedly put aside money to market new neighborhoods for new residents of Lod.
The city’s social welfare programs, which local activists and residents have repeatedly referred to as severely lacking, will receive an additional NIS 4m. in funding per year. As well, a number of jobs will be created for new social workers, including Arabic-speaking ones.
Many houses in the city’s Arab neighborhoods will receive renewed infrastructure, and much of their illegal construction will be given legal status. In addition, some NIS 10m. will be invested in building sports facilities in the city, which currently lacks a single community center for the Arab sector.
With the announcement of the plan, Netanyahu expressed the importance of preventing Lod from declining farther.
“We will do whatever is necessary so that Lod will continue to attract residents, young couples and tourists. The first commitment of any government to its citizens is security. I cannot accept that Lod will become the Wild West; we are committed to [preventing] this.”
He added, “Only a comprehensive plan will save the city, and I am certain that the integrated actions which we are taking in the fields of the economy, housing, infrastructure, social welfare and personal security are the combination that will bring change to Lod.”