NORTHThe 18th annual International Cartoon Exhibition took place in Haifa this week. The exhibition, which organizers described as the only event of its kind in Israel, exhibited cartoons from all over the world. The cartoons were selected in a contest that took place over the summer, with a theme of “social justice and protest.” The first-place prize, which is to be awarded on Monday at the Haifa Auditorium, goes to Romanian cartoonist Gheorghe Licurici. Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav is scheduled to participate in the award ceremony.According to the exhibition’s organizers, “Gheorghe Licurici is a member of the Federation of Cartoonists Organizations. He [regularly publishes] in various magazines and newspapers in Romania. He has participated in more than 200 cartoon exhibitions and received numerous awards.”IDF opens live-fire areas to the public for SuccotAs in previous years, the IDF opened up various live-fire ranges in the North and throughout the country to members of the public during Succot. Travelers and tourists were required to coordinate their trips into livefire areas with the IDF, especially considering that some of the areas were in use for training throughout the holiday. The IDF asked tourists to heed posted signs, especially those demarcating minefields, and to follow any orders given by the army.Neolithic figures found in the Lower GalileeWorkers discovered beads strung in a colorful bow and ostrich figures carved on a stone plate alongside animal figurines last week at the Ein Tzipori national park, which is located in the Lower Galilee.Ahead of the widening of Highway 79, extensive archeological excavations were conducted by the Antiquities Authority. During the excavations, a variety of impressive prehistoric artifacts were uncovered. The most important findings are seals or talismans with geometric motifs and stone plates decorated with incised bone tools.Kibbutz Usha to replace pre-state sewage systemThe Zevulun Regional Council has announced plans to replace and renovate the sewage system at Kibbutz Usha, which, having been installed in 1937, is older than the State of Israel, the Local website reported. With help from various government agencies, the regional council is investing around NIS 6 million into renovations at the kibbutz, half of which is earmarked for the sewage project, according to the report.Council head Dov Yeshurun said of the project, “The upgraded sewage system will fulfill the needs of Kibbutz Usha, which is growing and being renewed, and will help keep green our beautiful environment in the Zevulun Valley,” the website reported.CENTERBat Yam Street Theater Festival returnsThe 16th annual Bat Yam Street Theater Festival took place in the southern Tel Aviv suburb during Hol Hamoed, featuring over 50 different acts. Participants and performers, vying for a number of cash prizes, included theater, dance, circus acts, live music, design, video art, plastic- based arts, and playback theater.In the theater category, three cash prizes of NIS 11,000, NIS 8,000 and NIS 6,000 were to be awarded to first-, second- and third-place winners. In the dance category, performers competed for one NIS 5,000 prize. A panel of five judges from Israel and Europe was to select the winners. ARMA Theater (standing for the initials of the Hebrew words for earth, wind, water and fire) co-founder Lisa Jacobson said of the annual event, “Street theater artists are artists who choose to perform in a public space, in an open theater – for everyone. That is their operating theater, far from the conventional theater halls.”She continued, “Their performances take place on the street and in unique places in which their contact with the public is direct, surprising and leaves a place for the actors to improvise, to be attentive to their audience, in a real way in real time.”Ra’anana opposition leader wants free parking for seniorsAt a time when pensions are being slashed and the social security of senior citizens is often called into question, one Ra’anana municipal political faction is proposing a new benefit for seniors: free parking.Municipal Council opposition chairman Dr. Yoav Rozen of the New Direction faction wrote to the Ra’anana mayor’s office late last month with the proposal, the Local website reported. He also proposed introducing new debt payment and amnesty arrangements for parking fines.Rozen proposed that a “gold tag” be issued to Ra’anana seniors over age 70, which would alert municipal inspectors to the age and inherent parking benefits of local seniors, according to the report.“Despite the many discussions on the issue of parking in the city, it seems that nothing has been done and the situation remains the same,” Rozen wrote in a press release cited by the website. “The mayor promised free parking to city residents, something that hasn’t happened and will not happen.”Ra’anana man arrested after escaping police chaseKfar Saba police arrested a man suspected of damaging a police car that was chasing him on his all-terrain vehicle (ATV) last month, kicking and damaging the police car before managing to escape, the Local website reported. The chase began when detectives from the Kfar Saba Police’s Youth Unit spotted the man riding without a helmet or license plates on his ATV, according to the report. The detectives attempted to pull the man over, but he escaped.Police later arrested the 25-year-old suspect at his Ra’anana home. A court ordered him released over lack of evidence against him, despite police claiming he had confessed at the police station, the website reported. The suspect denied the allegations.SOUTHBeersheba trail wins European awardA hiking trail that circles Beersheba (the Round Beersheba Trail) won the Special Prize in the European Ramblers’ Association’s (ERA) second annual Eco Award. The trail was developed by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.The ERA praised the trail for allowing “a continuous hike around the urban area of the city,” adding that it “serves as a mediator between the urban cluster and the open outdoors, as it is situated on the border of the developed space and open space.”The trail, which was designed as a green belt to surround the urban spaces of city, was noted for its current state and future plans for its continued development.“The [trail] was designed to go through open spaces that border the city in order to create a green belt and merge with the city’s future planning, knowing that one cannot stop the natural expansion of the city but rather participate and minimize the impact,” the ERA wrote in its praise of the trail.The ERA, founded in 1969, represents over 55 ramblers’ organizations throughout Europe and four from other countries, including Israel. It boasts over three million members and aims to promote and preserve hiking trails and access to them in Europe.Ashkelon beaches are ranked ‘clean’Beaches in Ashkelon were ranked among the country’s cleanest in national rankings released for the end of the 2012 summer beach season, the Local website reported. The rankings are compiled and released as part of the Environmental Protection Ministry’s “Clean Beach” program.The Clean Beach program ranks cleanliness levels of unofficial beaches that fall under the jurisdiction of local authorities. In the most recent rankings, Ashkelon was ranked as a “city of clean beaches,” according to the report.Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin said of the positive rankings, “We are doing everything through our city’s beach authority, and will continue to do so, in order to keep the beaches clean and orderly and in order to ensure residents can enjoy the city’s beaches,” the website reported.Mother accused of leaving toddler alonePolice in Kiryat Malachi opened a criminal investigation after discovering a three-year-old child left alone at home while her mother went to work last week, the Local website reported. Police arrived at the mother’s apartment after concerned neighbors called to report a crying baby. Officers who were dispatched to the scene broke down the door to the apartment after hearing the child’s cries and nobody answered their knocks, according to the report. They discovered the three-year-old, who they believed was left alone for a long period.Officers took the frightened toddler to a local police station after police were unable to find her family, the Local website reported. Social welfare officials who were notified came to the police station to take custody of the child. Police located the mother after several hours. She said it was the first time she had left her daughter alone in order to go to work, according to the report. Police opened a criminal investigation.