Gilad Schalit to participate in Acre bike race

Lake Kinneret rises 20 centimeters over the weekend and now stands 3.37 meters below the basin’s upper red line.

Schalit Maccabi 390 (photo credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters))
Schalit Maccabi 390
(photo credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters))
The Acre Municipality has announced that one year after its annual bicycle race ran under the banner of freeing captive IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, the now-free Schalit will be a participant. This year’s race takes place on May 4.
Acre Mayor Shimon Lankry expressed his excitement that the race had become a tradition for the city’s residents and students, and said “we are happy to have [Schalit] participate in the race.”
Schalit’s father, Noam, the city said, recently met with the race’s organizers to confirm his participation, the Local website reported.
Kinneret water level sees significant rise from rain
Lake Kinneret rose 20 centimeters over the weekend and now stands 3.37 meters below the basin’s upper red line. Even with rain tailing off on Sunday afternoon, the lake will likely see a further rise as snow that fell in the Golan Heights begins to melt.
The country’s three main water sources – the Kinneret, the mountain aquifers and coastal aquifers – are collectively missing about 1.5 billion to 2 billion cubic meters of water due to the last seven drought years.
Traffic cameras catch 100,000 speeding
Some 100,000 drivers exceeded the speed limit in the past month alone, police said late last week to mark the end of the first month in which new traffic cameras were in operation. Police also released statistics on the newly installed cameras: Three cameras issued approximately 250 citations for running red lights, and 1,000 warnings for excessive speeding, police said.
Also last week, Traffic Police chief Asst.-Ch. Bruno Stein visited Karmiel to review traffic operations in the city and the North, including joint operations with over 90 local police volunteers.
Praising the volunteer traffic police, Karmiel Deputy Mayor Shula Cohen said, “These volunteers you see here are people with tremendous commitment to leave their homes and volunteer. I appreciate the important work they are doing and they deserve a big thank you.” Stein also praised the cooperation taking place in the city as an example for other locales.
TA beaches closed due to heavy storms
The Interior Ministry announced late last week it was closing a number of Tel Aviv-Jaffa’s beaches to swimmers in light of the strong storms in the area.
The North Tzuk Beach, Nordau Beach, the religious segregated beach, Yerushalayim Beach, Aviv Beach and Frishman Beach were all closed. They were reopened after the weekend.
Daycare center fire causes injuries
A fire broke out at a daycare center in Elad on Sunday, prompting the evacuation of 18 children from the premises.
Two employees of the daycare center suffered light smoke inhalation, and a number of the children, aged one to three, were taken to the Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva for examination. Magen David Adom paramedics evacuated the injured adults to Petah Tikva’s Rabin Medical Center, Beilinson Campus.
Firefighters determined that the fire had been caused by a malfunction in a heater.
Boutique tour companies join forces
Two of Israel’s leading tour companies offering boutique tours around the world announced their merger this week, a move both companies said would lead to a growing number of destinations and opportunities for Israeli tourists. Geographical Tours, which has been providing boutique tours for over 30 years, and Barak Afik, which specializes in group and individual tours to exotic and faraway destinations, expect to service some 50,000 tourists each year.
The new joint company said it was excited to expand its tailor-made tours, trips to Myanmar (Burma), Ethiopia, Peru, Bolivia, Indonesia and New Zealand, and to facilitate the return of Israeli tourists to Japan, for which it said demand has been rising.
In addition, the company described a number of new packages it hoped to offer in the near future.
One such specialized tour, called “Operation Savta,” targets grandparents and grandchildren.
Another, called “From Slavery to Freedom,” will follow the path of slaves from Zanzibar to the US.
A third destination is the newly formed state of South Sudan – a tour that will be the first of its kind to the developing country.
Two children drown in stormy weather
Two young children drowned in separate incidents during the heavy rains in the Center of the country late last week. On Friday, a seven-year-old girl from Modi’in Illit died after being swept away in a flooded river. The girl was found unconscious after hours of searching and was evacuated by helicopter to the Safra Children’s Hospital in Tel Hashomer, where doctors pronounced her dead.
A day earlier, a six-year-old boy drowned near Moshav Tnuvot in the Sharon region. The boy fell in a reservoir and was evacuated to Laniado Medical Center in Netanya, but the doctors were forced to pronounce him dead.
Tel Aviv holds online planning session
As part of its continuing efforts to use technology to increase public participation in the municipal planning process, the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality held an online roundtable session last week called “What Will the City Look Like in 2025?” The discussion sought to determine long-term development goals for the city, including what areas will be earmarked for housing, employment, commerce, public or other land uses, which places should be preserved and which should be further developed. Also discussed were transportation and environmental planning, and the effect those plans have on city life.
The plan developed in the sessions will provide general instructions that will help guide the preparation of local master plans, which create targets based on anticipated population and employment needs and realities in the future.
Rishon Lezion cracks down on alcohol sales
The Rishon Lezion Municipality has begun stepping up its enforcement of the law prohibiting sales of alcohol during nighttime hours. The new fine for selling alcohol at stores between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. is NIS 9,000.
Last week, inspectors attempted to buy alcohol at a convenience store in the city’s Ramat Eliyahu neighborhood and issued a NIS 9,000 fine to the owners. In the past year, the enforcement branch of the city shut down six convenience stores and expects to increase its operations against prohibited alcohol sales in the near future. However, the enforcement branch said enforcing the alcohol regulations was the Israel Police’s responsibility, and called for police to step up their own activities in that area.
Before beginning the new campaign, the municipality distributed letters to local businesses explaining the regulations and warning of the consequences of violating them, the Local website reported.
New Negev community rejected
A subcommittee of the National Council for Planning and Construction last week denied an appeal from the Ramat Hanegev Regional Council seeking approval to establish the new community of Nitzana in the western Negev.
However, the committee ruled that if the council and the Israel Lands Authority revised the plans to include an environmental impact report and consider alternative locations for the community, the project would be brought for renewed discussion.
The appeal was against a ruling sought by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, which had argued that no other locations had been considered in planning the community.
Instead of creating a new community, SPNI contended, planners should consider expanding and strengthening existing communities.
The environmental group issued a statement that it was “very important to maintain continuity of open spaces and open countryside in the Nitzana region. Establishing a new community there would harm natural resources, open spaces and biodiversity. There are alternatives for the establishment of new settlements, such as the expansion of existing communities.”
This, it added, would maintain the rural character of the region and make development sustainable.
The head of the Ramat Hanegev Regional Council expressed satisfaction with the committee’s decision, the Local website reported.
Robbers hijack sheep trucks, kidnap driver
Thieves hijacked two trucks carrying some 140 sheep in the Tamar region late last week. Police said one of the truck drivers managed to escape the thieves, but another was taken hostage.
The kidnapped truck driver was eventually released, but emerged with bruises all over his body. Three suspects were arrested in connection with the incident.