Three suspects were arrested last week by the Antiquities Authority’s Robbery Prevention Unit and stand accused of heading a ring of thieves in northern Israel who have been stealing valuable archeological pieces. The three men, all in their 50s, were caught red-handed while searching for archeological finds and coins. The robbers, one of whom is a family physician, were caught with digging tools and sophisticated equipment including metal detectors worth thousands of dollars. According to the authority’s Robbery Prevention Unit, the suspects admitted to their alleged offenses and were released on bail ahead of an indictment in court.
Antiquities Authority Robbery Prevention Unit director Amir Ganor said of the arrests, “Any digging by unauthorized parties at antiquities sites causes irreparable damage to them and, thereby, to archeological research and understanding of the history of the country and its people.” Unauthorized excavations and damaging an archeological site, he added, “are criminal offenses for which the penalty is five years in prison,” the Local website reported.
Apache helicopter makes emergency landing
Drivers on Highway 6 witnessed an unusual sight last weekend when an Israeli Air Force Apache Longbow helicopter, called a Saraf by the IDF, was forced to make an emergency landing next to the Ein Tut Junction Friday afternoon. The attack helicopter landed in a field near the road but caused temporary traffic jams as drivers attempted to see the aircraft.
The IDF Spokesman’s Office said the helicopter had a serious malfunction and made an emergency landing according to procedures. The crew members were uninjured.
Peres presents Beautiful Israel award to Acre
President Shimon Peres presented Acre Mayor Shimon Lankry with the Beautiful Israel award for development towns last week. Noting Acre’s role as an “immigration gateway” and a city connecting Haifa Bay and the country’s northern coastal plain, the president praised the city for realizing the settlement and coexistence of Jews and Arabs and the preservation and development of Jewish historical heritage sites. The ceremony was an initiative of the Council for a Beautiful Israel. Upon receiving the award, Lankry expressed his desire for an increase in conservation work and praised his city, saying, “It has become a model city and a model of coexistence,” the Local website reported.
TA marks 20 years of Ethiopian immigration
The Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality last week held a celebratory event marking 20 years since Operation Solomon, which brought many of Israel’s Ethiopian population to the country. The event was attended by Tel Aviv-Jaffa Mayor Ron Huldai, Immigrant Absorption Ministry Director-General Dimitry Efratzav, Ethiopian Rabbi Yehuda Sahla and chairman of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Ethiopian community Mizgabo Jamber.
Guests and participants were introduced to some of the Ethiopian community’s customs, and traditional Ethiopian food was served. An Ethiopian band performed for the guests, and a film about the immigration process was screened. Tel Aviv-Jaffa has roughly 400 Ethiopian families, including 650 children.
Land theft in Bnei Brak is thwarted
The Israel Lands Authority thwarted three attempts to steal state land in the north of the Bnei Brak Municipality last week. Inspectors from the ILA and the municipality discovered the placement of equipment and shipping containers, in one case including several horses and donkeys, at two different locations in the city’s industrial zone.
The ILA said it has been working vigorously in recent months to thwart attempts to illegally occupy state land and to stop them before permanent structures are built. ILA Tel Aviv District Supervisor Yossi Cohen said, “We are determined to stop the attempted invasion and seizure of land by trespassers. We intend to sue the invaders for the expenses related to clearing the repeated incursions into state lands, including the costs of renting machinery and the cost of dispatching inspectors.”
He added, “Taking state land is considered a criminal offense, is against the public interest and is liable to evoke a harsh response on our part,” the Local website reported.
Bat Yam launches water-saving beautification project
The Bat Yam Municipality began a project last week to beautify the city while saving water. Municipal teams began planting throughout the city hundreds of trees that do not require irrigation systems. The first part of the pilot program saw trees planted on Agnon, Tabenkin and Shapiro streets. They will be watered once a week by a portable water tanker for the first three years. After that, the trees will no longer have to rely on irrigation and will be able to survive on rainwater alone.
Rishon Lezion rolls out free wireless Internet
The Rishon Lezion Municipality entered the 21st century last week when it rolled out wireless Internet access that covers its City Hall building. The public will be able to access the Internet wirelessly in the lobby, the first-floor conferenceroom of the Education Division, the second-floor conference room and on the fourth- and fifth-floor conference rooms.
Municipal Information Technology manager Itzik Carmeli said of the project, “The Rishon Lezion Municipality has raised the banner of quality service in the field of technology,” noting that the service added to existing wireless projects near the city’s beaches, its mall and in other locations. In the future, he added, wireless Internet access will be available in parks and urban development areas. “All these points will offer speeds of 10 MB, giving residents improved, readily available and fast service,” the Local website reported.
Eilat students to be given bus discount
Students in Eilat will now be given the same discount on public transportation fares as students in the rest of the country. As part of transportation reforms that came into effect last month, students around the country became eligible for a 50 percent discount on inner and intercity bus fares, excluding intercity lines to and from Eilat.
Upon discovering the exclusion, the head of Eilat’s Student Union appealed to the city’s mayor to help correct the situation. In a petition to the Transportation Ministry, they pointed out that students living in Eilat pay some of the highest transportation costs in the country due to the city’s distance from universities.
Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevi, in his appeal to the Transportation Ministry, proposed that students from Eilat carrying municipal resident cards be given the same 50% discount on bus fares to the city. The discount, which was approved by the ministry, will apply to residents of Eilat, the Eilot Regional Council and the Central Arava Regional Council.
The Negev puts itself on the map – online
As part of its efforts to bring 300,000 new residents to the Negev in the next 10 years, the Negev and Galilee Development Ministry announced the creation of its new website, Mahshevbonegev (Thinking of life in the Negev), ahead of the Negev Vision Conference to be held in Yeruham.
The site (www.b-negev.org.il).highlights the financial and quality-of-life benefits of moving to the southern desert. Speaking at the conference, ministry director-general Orna Huzman-Bachor explained, “The site lists the various costs and parameters, including housing, transportation, household [costs], leisure and culture in the Negev compared with central Israel. In addition, the site lists a variety of communities, services and various settlements in the Negev.”
The next decade, Huzman-Bachor said, “is the decade of the Negev. According to the plans in place, by 2025 the Negev population will reach 1.2 million people. The populations of cities like Arad, Yeroham and Dimona are expected to triple, and travel times to the Center and North will become shorter, making the drive from the Dead Sea to Tel Aviv only half an hour.”
Ashkelon welcomes German educational team
Teachers in Ashkelon welcomed a delegation from Germany last week to help teach about modern teaching methods and practices. The delegation, consisting of three professors and heads of teacher training programs at various German universities, came to present new methods and learn about Israeli matriculation exams.
During the visit, the delegation toured local schools, libraries and study halls and were given a presentation on the education programs in the city. Particular attention was given to the special circumstances of students in southern Israel and Ashkelon, who are required to study while Grad rockets are fired on their city, focusing on the ability of students to continue studies following alerts and explosions of rockets, the Local website reported.