Organizers declare Galilee biking event a success

City Notes: Weekend rain brings minor flooding to North; TA opens new youth center in Jaffa.

Group of cyclists 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Group of cyclists 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Some 500 bicyclists took part in the second annual “Around the Western Galilee” ride last week, an event meant to promote tourism and sports activities in the region, the Local website reported.
Sponsoring the event were the Asher Regional Council, philanthropist Raya Strauss, the Negev and Galilee Development Ministry and the Culture and Sport Ministry.
The ride included three different routes, touring through and around various mountains, lakes and ecological sites in the region. Gali Raz, the Asher Regional Council’s tourism, social and economic group director, referred to the tour as “a sporting, cultural and leisure event in the Western Galilee.
To our delight, the warm weather did not overshadow the ride, and many people took advantage of Saturday to become acquainted with the scenic Western Galilee and its residents by riding [through it],” Local reported. The new tradition will continue, she promised.Weekend rain brings minor flooding to North
A burst of late-morning rain brought minor flooding to a number of cities in the North on Friday, as the change in seasons suddenly relegated an unusually resilient summer to the realm of sweat-drenched memory.
In Haifa, the rains flooded at least one retirement home, and water filled a number of local streets, Army Radio reported. Firefighters dispatched to the retirement home helped evacuate the residents.
One car became stuck on a flooded street in Haifa’s industrial bay area, leading to serious traffic jams.
In Acre, at least one home was flooded.
The stormy morning’s wrath, however, was not limited to dry land. Over a kilometer off the coast of Jaffa, a boat carrying 11 people from a local scuba diving school capsized and sank. The Tel Aviv Police’s maritime unit quickly responded to their distress call, pulling all 11 divers from the water and safely bringing them all back to shore.
TA opens new youth center in Jaffa
The Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality officially inaugurated its new Center for Youth Advancement – Sha’arei Nikanor in Jaffa’s Ajami neighborhood last week.
The center was designed as a multifunctional service center for at-risk youth, providing a range of services from education to therapy for adolescents aged 12 to 18, the Local website reported. It aims to promote the youths’ integration into educational programs tailored to their needs, reinforcing existing programs. In addition, it stresses the development of social skills. The facilities include a gym and social activities.
The $1.2 million project was largely funded by the UK’s Friends of Tel Aviv-Jaffa Development Fund and an investment from the municipality itself, according to the report.
Speaking at the inauguration, Mayor Ron Huldai said, “When I started my [term], I made a point of removing the hyphen that separates Tel Aviv and Jaffa and close the gap that has developed over the years between parts of the city,” Local reported.
“For over a decade we have been developing Jaffa, with multifaceted and creative investments. Today you can truly say that we’re seeing the fruits of our labors,” the site quoted him as saying.
Establishing the center in the Ajami neighborhood, he explained, “is of unique importance for the youth of the neighborhood who are entitled to the same opportunities as every other child in the city. My hope is that the youth center will serve as a support and advancement framework that provides social and emotional support to youth in need. They are the beating heart of the neighborhood and the city’s future generation.”Inspectors discover illegal piranha farm in Bat Yam
The Agriculture Ministry and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority arrested a Bat Yam resident this week on suspicion of breeding piranhas and wild birds in his residence. Possession and breeding of piranhas is illegal in Israel, as they are considered dangerous predators. One bite from the fish can cause serious injury and loss of blood, even leading to death, the Agriculture Ministry said.
In addition to the danger they pose to humans, piranhas could cause ecological damage if released into nature, possibly obliterating entire populations of native fish species, the ministry statement added.
Inspectors from the Agriculture Ministry and the INPA questioned the Bat Yam man, in his 20s, following his arrest. A tip had alerted inspectors to the illegal fish, and they subsequently searched the suspect’s home. They discovered about eight of the fish, approximately two years old and around 10 cm. long. The fish were confiscated and brought to a laboratory for examination. During the operation, a piranha bit one of the inspectors, who required medical attention.
Hagai Neuberger, head of the Agriculture Ministry’s fisheries inspection unit, said of the operation, “In addition to the unequivocal danger posed to people by breeding the piranhas, the introduction of species that do not naturally exist in Israel will hit the ecological balance of flora and fauna in Israel hard and harm water populations, causing ecological damage.”
The ministry, he continued, will continue working to enforce laws prohibiting the breeding, possession and trade of illegal fish species. He urged the public to report any such instances.
SOUTH Eilat gives initial OK to first master plan in 25 years The Eilat city council last month approved the municipality’s first master plan to be advanced in 25 years. The plan, written by a private architectural firm, sees the amount of housing in the city increase from room for 63,000 residents to room for 100,000. It also plans to double the number of hotel rooms; build an urban stretch connecting the eastern and western parts of the city; further develop the city’s status as an international sports destination, as well as a desirable site for conferences and business fairs; and increase quality of life for residents and visitors. The plan still needs approval from the district planning committee.
The planning process began several years ago with surveys of residents, asking them what type of construction, design and environmental planning they would like to see in the city. The municipality described the purpose of the plan as creating the conditions for economic growth and improving the city’s social structure, as well as the formulation of an urban environment that utilizes and highlights the natural surroundings, including the mountains, desert and sea.
“The master plan, after being approved, will market [Eilat] as a modern city of progress,” Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevy said, calling the initial approval a “huge and significant step toward achieving planning independence, which will ultimately result in a significant reduction of bureaucratic processes.”
Ashdod Museum opens interactive children’s exhibit The Ashdod Art Museum’s educational department expanded its activities this week with a new family-oriented exhibit called “Mishbetzet (checkerboard box) – Gallery for the Whole Family.” The art workshop is part of the educational department’s range of activities, and it joins other exhibits that aim to promote ecological awareness, school projects, art education and creative thinking.
Mishbetzet will be open to both children and parents, enabling them to experience the creation of original artwork and other interactive activities dealing with creative production.
The theme of the first Mishbetzet exhibit is light and color, and will include works by promising young artists, the museum said. The exhibit also includes personal statements from the artists about their creative processes. Some of the interactive workshops include the use of light and color in nature, and drawing with light in photography.
Israel to host weightlifting competition for 2nd time Eilat is preparing to host the World University Weightlifting Championships, another success in the city’s efforts to become a center of world sports competitions. The competition, set to take place between November 4 and 10, will be the second such event Israel has hosted. Nearly 200 athletes from some 40 countries will participate in the championship competition.
In 2010, the International University Sports Federation unanimously voted to give Israel the honor of hosting the competition for the second time. The first time was in 1998, in honor of the state’s 50th birthday. That competition took place in Ramat Gan, and 13 world records were set at the time.
Participants are expected to arrive from Turkey, Kazakhstan, China, Thailand, Russia, the US, Japan, Belarus, Romania, Moldova and other countries. Olympians and world champions are among the expected participants.