City Notes: Improve Safed tourism, says Meseznikov

Safed Mayor Ilan Shohat and Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov tour the ancient city to review construction being done.

 Safed 521 (photo credit: Ariel Zilber)
Safed 521
(photo credit: Ariel Zilber)
Following an investment of NIS 40 million in tourism in Safed, Mayor Ilan Shohat and Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov toured the ancient city to review construction being done. The aim is to build additional parking facilities, develop modern roads, and construct new parks and a visitors’ center.
Other projects the pair toured included a sewage and water infrastructure improvement project on the city’s Arlosoroff Street, and the site of a future escalator and new parking lot at the Meiri lookout point, where construction is scheduled to begin after the winter months.
During the tour, Shohat noted that one of the central goals of the tourism plan was to make the city a “48-hour-stay” destination. According to the mayor, 1.2 million tourists visit Safed each year, making it one of the country’s top tourism destinations. However, he lamented that it was neglected by the tourism industry. “We intend to change that,” he said, adding that doing so would provide a dramatic boost for the local economy and business owners.
Meseznikov declared that Safed was already an important tourism destination, “it only needs to be improved.”
Acre to install 40 security cameras
The Acre Municipality announced the installation of 40 closed-circuit security cameras throughout the Old City as part of an effort to increase safety there. The project’s cost is estimated at NIS 1.5 million. The city already has five cameras installed and connected to the municipal command and control center. The new cameras will be installed mostly in crowded areas like the port, the market and alleys of the Old City.
Acre’s director of public safety Yaniv Osher lauded the existing cameras, saying they had already yielded results. Last week, the Local website quoted him as saying police were able to identify and track down suspects in a vandalism incident at a local business.
2 arrested for attacking elderly Karmiel woman
Two men were arrested for attacking an elderly woman in her Karmiel home over the weekend.
According to police, the men, aged 29 and 30, knocked on the 75-year-old woman’s door and identified themselves as police officers. When she opened the door, they pushed her down and scoured her apartment for valuables.
The woman managed to crawl to a phone and call her caregiver, who contacted police. When the police arrived, they found the door locked from inside and broke it down. The suspects attempted to flee through the window but were arrested by additional police forces waiting outside.
Paramedics took the woman to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa for treatment.
TA announces new construction application regime
The Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality this week finalized the establishment of a new licensing institution to improve the speed and ease of issuing construction permits for the city. The institution will be responsible for establishing panels examining each request and issuing professional opinions on the merits and requirements of the permit sought. It will also put the process online, including application submissions and the ability to track their status – a move expected to reduce the amount of time it takes to process permit requests. The system will also create a separate channel for processing noncomplex “green applications,” effectively separating different types of permit requests. This will allow simpler applications to be streamlined for faster approval.
“We are confident that the emphasis and resources being invested in the plan will significantly and measurably improve the services provided by the city’s Licensing Department,” said city engineer Hezi Berkovitz.
Vandals strike Army Radio in Tel Aviv
Anonymous vandals spray-painted the words “End the occupation” and “End the oppression” on the entrance and parking lot of an Army Radio building in Tel Aviv over the weekend. Police opened an investigation into the incident.
Bomb explodes in Bnei Brak repair shop
A pipe bomb went off last week in a car repair shop on Bnei Brak’s Kinneret Street. The bomb caused no casualties and no damage.
Police sappers who arrived on the scene discovered the small pipe bomb near the door of the garage. Police opened an investigation and said the incident appeared to be criminal in nature.
Police chase leaves two injured in Tel Aviv
Two people sitting on a bus-stop bench on Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street suffered light injuries Saturday night when a car fleeing police struck a parked motor scooter nearby.
Police noticed the vehicle driving erratically in north Tel Aviv and ordered the driver to stop immediately. The driver refused to heed the officers’ calls, running several red lights as he fled. A police officer shot at the car’s tires, causing the driver to lose control. The car then hit the motor scooter, which slammed into the bystanders.
The two people injured were evacuated to the city’s Sourasky Medical Center in good condition. The car’s driver and his three passengers were detained for questioning.
Fuel theft ring nabbed in Rehovot
Police in Rehovot this week arrested three people suspected of belonging to a gasoline and diesel fuel theft ring in the city.
According to police, the thieves would target trucks and buses with external gasoline tanks and pump out the fuel. The value of the stolen fuel was estimated at thousands of shekels, the Local website reported. The three, all Holon residents in their 20s, were released to house arrest and were expected to be indicted in the near future.
Ashkelon dedicates ‘Artists House’
In an initiative to give artists in Ashkelon a home for their works, an Artists’ House was inaugurated in the city this week.
The center will also host lectures and master workshops in sculpture and painting open to domestic and foreign tourism aimed at both schoolchildren and the general public.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Mayor Benny Vaknin congratulated those in attendance, calling the Artists’ House “a very special place for me and one that has a historical value in Ashkelon.” Explaining the city’s investment in the arts in recent years, Vaknin said the value of art and culture could be seen as “giving the soul back to the town.” Artists, he said, “strengthen the spirit of the city, and we will reciprocate by strengthening you.”
Ilana Shafir, the founder of Ashkelon’s first art center, also spoke at the ceremony, saying, “This is an old dream come true.” She added, “I have hope in my heart that the artists who are here can develop the place for good.”
ILA publishes non-competitive bidding for land plots in Eilat
Following the restoration of Eilat’s status as an area of national priority, the Israel Lands Authority began publishing the sale of 69 plots of land for homes in the city’s Area 6, the Simhon neighborhood, for which residents will pay only 31 percent of the market value.
The non-competitive bidding process ensures that those eligible pay only the minimally set price of NIS 153,760 for the land, which was assessed at a market value of NIS 496,000.
Those who win the right to buy the land through a lottery process will also be responsible for development costs, which are estimated at an average of NIS 260,000.
Current Eilat residents will receive priority in the lottery process, and families will have priority over individuals.
Winners will be allowed to sell the land only after five years from the initial purchase.
Palmahim desalination plant doubles capacity
The Palmahim desalination plant held a ceremony last week officially marking its increase in capacity from 45 million cubic meters to 90 million cu.m. of desalinated water per year.
Performing the expansion work – which was lauded as necessary amid regional instability – was GES, a subsidiary of the Azrieli Group’s Granite Hacarmel Investments.
Granite Hacarmel Investments CEO Joseph Singer described the expansion of the facility as fulfilling the Zionist dream, saying that “desalination reflects cooperation between the public and private sectors.” The plant, he said, is now among the largest in the world.
Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau said at the ceremony that doubling the amount of water desalinated at the plant “is essential to the future, economy and security of Israel.”
Because of the instability and arid nature of the Middle East, he added, “we must provide our own water.” By increasing the water supply and ensuring stable prices for water, “we can prepare for other changes [in the region],” he said.