City Notes: Illegal fishermen nabbed in the Kinneret

Two killed in Jezreel Valley; Underground parking at Dizengoff; New neighborhood in Kiryat Gat.

Kinneret at sunset 311 (photo credit: Joe Yudin)
Kinneret at sunset 311
(photo credit: Joe Yudin)


Agriculture Ministry inspectors acting with assistance from police maritime units caught what they said was an illegal fishing operation in the Kinneret early last Thursday morning. Inspectors and officers caught a fishing boat with an illegal haul of 30 kilograms of undersized mullet fish.

The Agriculture Ministry noted that illegal fishing, especially of immature fish, damages efforts at developing the lake and rebuilding its stock of fish. To prevent large catches of undersized fish, nets are allowed a minimum hole size of 80 millimeters. The fishermen caught last week allegedly had a smaller net. Additionally the boat was fishing without the proper license.

According to the Local website, Agriculture Ministry Fisheries Inspection Division head Hagai Neuberger said of the incident: “Catching fish smaller than permitted causes grave harm to the fish, to their reproductive chain and their ability to grow and reproduce. The fish population of the Kinneret is dwindling, and the Agriculture Ministry is doing everything it can to stop the phenomenon and strengthen the fish population.”

Hadera honors commander killed in Carmel fire

The Hadera Municipality named a street last week after Police Asst.-Cmdr. Lior Boker, who died last year trying to save Prisons Service cadets trapped in a bus during the Carmel fire. Attending the dedication of the street were senior police officials, including former police commissioner David Cohen, representatives of the Fire Service, municipal officials and Boker’s friends and family.

“I knew Lior personally from the time he was appointed to be the police chief of Hadera,” the Local website quoted Hadera Mayor Haim Avitan as saying at the ceremony. “Already at that time, he was thought of as one of the best commanders in the Israel Police, and of course he will be remembered as one of the best commanders in the Hadera station. Talented, generous, determined and brave, all of these qualities made him an exemplary person in his lifetime and after his death – a model of heroism, courage and sacrifice.”

Lior Boker Street is an access road to the new mall on the city’s Tzahal Street.

2 killed in Jezreel Valley collision

Two people were killed and another was lightly injured in a head-on collision early this week between a truck and a commercial vehicle on Route 73, between Nahalal Junction and Ramat David in the Jezreel Valley.

Magen David Adom paramedics pronounced the victims dead at the scene. The truck driver, who was lightly hurt, was evacuated to Emek Medical Center in Afula. A preliminary police investigation into the accident found that the driver of the commercial vehicle had swerved into oncoming traffic.


TA to build city-funded affordable housing

In an unprecedented move, the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality is set to approve the country’s first affordable housing project to be fully funded by a municipality. The project, to be built in the city’s southern Shapira neighborhood, will consist of 69 housing units. Each will have three to four rooms and will be offered at 25 percent below the market value rent.

At least 45 of the units will be offered to those entitled according to criteria set by the city. A lottery will take place among those eligible, and the winners will be offered a five-year lease in the new units, which are expected to be finished by the second half of 2013.

Tel Aviv-Jaffa Mayor Ron Huldai said he hoped the project would be the first of many, so that as many eligible residents as possible could receive housing assistance. “In the absence of a response by the government or legislation on affordable housing, we took on the subject ourselves in order to create a framework, which we hope can serve as a model for other local authorities,” he said.

The mayor urged the government to legislate a solution making affordable housing more obtainable throughout the country.

Poll: TA wants underground parking at Dizengoff

As part of its plans to renovate and revive the city’s central Dizengoff Circle, the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality conducted a poll of residents to hear their preferences for the circle’s future. The poll found that 61 percent of residents wish to lower the traffic circle to ground-level, as the city plans to do, and 37% prefer that it stay raised as it is today.

Asked whether they felt an underground parking lot should be built underneath the renovated circle, 53% of residents answered affirmatively and 39% negatively (8% had no opinion on the matter).

The three options the city was considering for the circle were renovating the circle in its current design (above street level); lowering the circle to street level and placing a garden at its center; or lowering the circle to street level, putting a garden at its center and building an underground parking lot below it. In light of the survey’s findings, Tel Aviv-Jaffa Mayor Ron Huldai instructed staff to begin planning for the third option.

Netanya begins revitalizing Independence Square

The Netanya Municipality announced the beginning of a NIS 30 million project to upgrade and renovate the city’s Independence Square. The project, which is expected to be completed within 14 months,aims to turn the square into an interactive public space using modern technology. It will include the renovation of the city’s main pedestrian promenade, Herzl Street.

“Independence Square represents the city of Netanya,” said Netanya Mayor Miriam Feierberg-Ikar, declaring that the renovated space would attract thousands of visitors and offer a wealth of attractions. The project, she added, “highlights the Netanya Municipality’s process of renewing and revitalizing the city’s old Center.” Among other features, the square will feature interactive musical water shows in a new fountain.

Two arrested for gassing soldier in Ramat Gan

Police arrested two suspects late last week in connection with a tear-gas attack on a uniformed IDF soldier in Ramat Gan. The victim of the attack was transported to Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer in good condition after he was sprayed with tear gas while walking on Ramat Gan’s Jabotinsky Street Thursday afternoon.

The suspects, 21-year-old residents of Ramat Gan and Givatayim, were taken in for questioning. Police were investigating the circumstances and motive of the attack.


Eilat cracks down on price-gouging taxi drivers

As part of the Eilat Municipality’s efforts to improve its image and tourist experience, a multi-agency operation targeting pricegouging by taxi drivers took place last week. Following the operation conducted by the Tourism Ministry, the Transportation Ministry and Israel Police in Eilat, eight taxi drivers were charged with various price-gouging offenses and another four were still being investigated.

As part of the three-day operation, more than 40 undercover Tourism Ministry inspectors traveled in taxis throughout the city, including from the airport. The inspectors focused on the operation of meters and ensuring drivers were setting them to the proper tariffs, printing receipts, courteous service and other criteria. Drivers suspected of violating procedures were referred to the Licensing Authority, and if a complaint was sufficiently serious, to court.

Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov said that “the experience of visiting tourists begins with their arrival in Israel and ends at their departure.... Each encounter with a service provider significantly impacts their experience.” He asserted that “a satisfied tourist becomes a goodwill ambassador [for Israel],” adding that he would “continue to conduct training and auditing in order to improve the quality of service.”

New neighborhood planned in Kiryat Gat

A new Israel Lands Authority plan to expand the city of Kiryat Gat by nearly 50 percent was conditionally approved last week. The project, called Kiryat Gat North, will initially spread north of the existing city above Route 35 and Nahal Lachish. Some 7,000 housing units and parks will be built in the area, covering 300 hectares (741 acres), and will eventually house 25,000 people.

The plan also calls for the ILA to establish the “Lachish Park” along the river, which will include recreational areas, sports facilities and daytime activities. The park is planned to run parallel to the housing complexes. As part of the ILA’s efforts to increase “green” development, the new neighborhood’s transportation infrastructure – which includes bike paths and pedestrian trails – is designed to allow easy transit for pedestrians and bicyclists throughout the area.

According to the Local website, the Lands Authority said in a written statement that it saw “the strengthening of Kiryat Gat, which is in the geographic center of the State of Israel, [as] an important target for planning that strengthens the periphery. The project, planned with the highest standards, is designed to attract a strong socioeconomic population to Kiryat Gat.”