City Notes: IDF opens training bases to Succot tourists

Two wildfires burn in the North, Haifa Chemicals workers barricade themselves in, Tel Aviv to roll out free public WiFi, Beduin protest in South.

Negev Beduin Protest_311 (photo credit: Sharon Udasin)
Negev Beduin Protest_311
(photo credit: Sharon Udasin)
During Succot, the IDF has announced it will open a portion of its firing ranges to the public for tourist activities. Areas being opened are in the North, Center and South of the country.
The IDF Spokesman’s Office warned, however, that only some of the firing ranges will be opened and that live fire exercises will be held during the holiday.
Therefore, the spokesman asked that tourists exercise caution so as not to accidentally enter any live fire zones. Entrance to training areas must be coordinated with the IDF and those wishing to visit must receive written permission to do so.
For more information, call the IDF at the following phone numbers: North: (04) 697-9007; Center: (02) 530-5042; South: (08) 990-2926/7.
Visitors are reminded not to enter any fenced-in areas and to avoid areas marked as minefields. Maps showing hiking paths as well as areas that are off limits to tourists can be obtained from the IDF.
Two wildfires burn in the North
Firefighters managed to gain control over a forest fire that broke out mere hours before the Yom Kippur fast began on Friday afternoon. Five firefighting crews were assisted by two firefighting aircraft and Jewish National Fund personnel in putting out the blaze that broke out near the western Galilee town of Tal’a. No injuries were reported.
Earlier in the week a much larger fire burned through a forest near Karmiel’s Givat Ram neighborhood. Fifteen firefighting crews assisted by two firefighting aircraft were required to control that blaze. One firefighter was lightly injured while fighting the fire. An investigation was opened into the cause of the fire.
Fake diplomatic plates to get out of tickets
A Haifa man was taken into custody by police last week under suspicion of fabricating diplomatic license plates for his car as a way of getting out of parking tickets. According to police, officers noticed the vehicle a number of times before bringing its owner in for questioning. The first time police spotted the vehicle it only had numbers on the white license plates. The second time, the owner had added the diplomatic “CC” prefix to the plates. The change raised the officers’ suspicions. The suspect told police that the license plates were for aesthetic purposes only.

Haifa Chemicals workers barricade themselves in
After five months of protests and negotiations, 150 workers at the Haifa Chemicals factory barricaded their plant Thursday morning, burning tires and blocking management from entering.
Workers said that, despite initial progress in negotiations, executives were “dragging their feet” in recent weeks over contentious issues such as early retirement, worker protection and the company’s contracting practices.
The dispute came amid labor upheavals across the country in which medical residents, railway workers and the Histadrut labor federation have taken part.
Parks Authority: Don’t cut trees for Succot
The Israel Nature and Parks Authority announced last week that it would increase the enforcement of laws prohibiting the illegal harvesting of tree branches ahead of the Succot holiday.
The authority noted that religious leaders in Israel have welcomed the prohibitive laws and said that illegal harvesting of tree branches from protected land should be regarded as theft.
Tel Aviv to roll out free public WiFi
The Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality announced this week that it plans to roll out free wireless Internet in parks, boulevards, commercial districts and beaches throughout the city in 2012. The decision to budget the installations was made after a successful pilot program took place on Ben-Gurion Boulevard and stretches of Gordon Beach in the city.
Tel Aviv-Jaffa Mayor Ron Huldai said of the new initiative, “In the era of smartphones and laptops, wireless Internet service in public areas is a basic service and we see and understand the importance of the free service.” Providing the service, he said, “is part of a trend making the city’s public spaces more accessible to the public.”
Among many others, the free wireless Internet service is planned to stretch along the lengths of Dizengoff, Ben-Yehuda and Ibn Gvirol streets, and Ben-Gurion, Nordau, Rothschild, and Yerushalayim boulevards. The service will also be available in many of the city’s parks and squares and will cover most of the beaches stretching from the city’s southern to northern borders.
A first for Israeli “sister cities”
Whereas most cities in Israel seek “sister cities” or “twin cities” in other countries, the mayors of Ramat Gan and Ma’alot had a different idea. The two municipalities signed an agreement this week to make their cities twins, the first agreement of this kind between two Israeli cities.
The agreement entailed commitments to develop ties between Ramat Gan and Ma’alot residents to advance the common goals of mutual trust, tolerance and understanding. Both municipalities agreed to develop friendly relations in the areas of urban development, culture, welfare, education, sports, tourism, science and technology, among others.
Monuments, towers to be bathed in pink
Historic and monumental sites throughout Israel will be lit up in pink this month as part of a breast cancer awareness campaign sponsored by the Estee Lauder Group and the Israel Cancer Association.
Among other sites, the walls of the Old City of Jaffa, Tel Aviv’s Azrieli towers and Shalom Tower and Jerusalem’s David’s Citadel and Bridge of Strings will have florescent pink lights illuminating them during October.
The campaign will be kicked off on October 12 at the Tel Aviv- Jaffa Municipality, which will also be bathed in pink light, symbolizing hope, empowerment and strength to women across the world. Over 200 sites around the world will participate in the campaign.
The goals of the global campaign are to educate women about the need for early detection and treatment of breast cancer and to bring the public’s awareness of breast cancer to the forefront.
Tourism minister gets the key to Eilat
The Eilat Municipality gave the key to the city of Eilat to Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov in recognition of his work to revitalize tourism in the city. Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevi presented the key at a special city council meeting held at the Eilat campus of Ben-Gurion University last week.
Halevi praised the Tourism Ministry’s work to strengthen Eilat’s position as a significant tourism destination in Israel, including allocating a large budget, investing in the city’s infrastructure for sporting events and festivals and marketing the city to tourist booths domestically and abroad. This year Eilat was designated a national priority area for tourism, a status that allows incentives and grants to companies wishing to invest and build in the city.
Additionally, the number of flights to Eilat was increased in the past year.
"This key is to the State of Israel’s southern gate,” Halevi told Meseznikov. The minister said that “the Tourism Ministry is committed to the city and to its residents and will ensure that cooperation between all of the authorities to whom the city is important, primarily the mayor and local tourism industry, will lead to new achievements for the city.”
Dead Sea water level continues to fall
The water level in the Dead Sea has fallen by 10 centimeters since the end of August, according to a report from the Water Authority released late last week. The drop was in addition to a 15-centimeter loss that took place in August, on top of a 13- centimeter drop in July, the report revealed.
Southern rail commute grinds to a halt
Following a massively disrupting work slow-down implemented by rail workers last month, Israel Railways passengers experienced additional heavy delays last week, albeit for a different reason.
A train broke down and was disabled on the single track between Rehovot and Ashkelon on Wednesday morning during rush hour, shutting down much of the rail traffic in the area for over an hour. Earlier the same day, a train from Beersheba to Kiryat Gat also experienced mechanical problems and was heavily delayed, putting a kink in the morning commuter schedule.
Following the day’s breakdowns, which he called “repeated failures,” Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz called for urgent discussions to improve the country’s rail system. Additionally, he emphasized the need to expedite the construction of a second track connecting Tel Aviv and Beersheba.

Protest in Beersheba against Beduin resettlement plan
Several thousand Beduin from the Negev and Jewish activists and Arab Israelis from across the country staged a demonstration in Beersheba last week, protesting a cabinet decision to resettle Beduin villagers. According to the plan, the majority of Beduin villagers would be resettled in recognized towns in the Abu Basma Regional Council and in the Beersheba District. Additionally, NIS 1.2 billion would be budgeted for economic and employment development in the Beduin communities.