Eilat's residents feel safe in 'City Without Violence'

Eilat's residents feel safer in their city than do residents of 11 other Israeli cities that have adopted the Internal Security Ministry's national "City Without Violence" program, reports www.mynet.co.il. A survey of the 12 cities found that Eilat - which pioneered the program four years ago - won the highest score for the sense of safety felt by residents in the city. According to the report, Eilat initiated the "City Without Violence" program four years ago, with significant success. The program aims to reduce violence of all kinds - domestic, criminal, schoolyard, teenage, and vehicular - through specific measures that identify the sources of the problems and involve the municipal education, social welfare, police and health systems in solving them. Following in the wake of Eilat's success, the Internal Security Ministry adopted the program and began promoting it as a role-model to other cities nationwide. Among the 11 other cities that adopted the program some 18 months ago are Tiberias, Acre, Netanya, Hadera, Ashkelon and Lod. The report said that a professional institute working for the ministry recently surveyed 400 adults, comprising a representative sample of the population, in the 12 cities that have adopted the plan. The residents were asked to rank their feeling of safety in their cities from one (very unsafe) to seven (very safe). Eilat's residents returned an average score of 5.7, compared with a national average of 4.8. The survey also found that half of Eilat's residents believed there was less violence in their city than in other cities, while one-third believed there was the same amount and only 12 percent believed there was more. Asked which factors damaged their feelings of safety in the city, Eilat's residents said the main factors were badly behaved or criminal youths, members of minority groups who worked in the city, property crimes, and harassment by foreigners coming into the city. Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevy said the survey showed that determined, consistent and uncompromising work over time brings results.