City Notes: Contested railway line approved

An electrified rail line in Haifa will be built above ground despite objections by the Haifa Municipality and environmental groups.

traffic in jerusalem_521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
traffic in jerusalem_521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
An electrified rail line in Haifa will be built above ground despite objections by the Haifa Municipality and environmental groups, who were lobbying for the line to be built below ground, a state committee decided this week. The city and the Society for the Preservation of Nature in Israel argue that the planned route will cut public access to beaches.
In response to the decision, the society said: “After a heated [committee] discussion in the presence of environmental and social activists, who filled the hall, a decision was made to advance the narrow interests and shortsightedness of government officials, using cynical representatives of a State Committee.”
The decision, the society added, will “sacrifice the public interest of keeping beaches open and accessible to the public.”
The activists vowed overturn the decision, the Local website reported.
Disabled vets join effort to save cultural center
Kiryat Shmona put on a special event for disabled IDF veterans living in the North this week celebrating a successful effort to prevent the closure of the city’s cultural center. The event included musical and dance performances by veterans and appearances by Kiryat Shmona’s mayor, the Golan Gateway Regional Council head, Upper Galilee Regional Council head, Metulla Regional Council head MK Yisrael Hasson and other local dignitaries.
Performers included the Latino-Gal wheelchair dance troupe and the Tzlilim singers, and there were art exhibits featuring the work of disabled IDF veterans.
Disabled IDF Veterans Association northern branch head Rafi Cohen called the association “a value-based organization” and the veterans “a part of the community.
As such,” he said, “we saw it as part of our duty to contribute to the struggle against closure of the center and to put on an event in support of the North’s residents, who have the right to enjoy culture. I’m thrilled that the center has been returned to them.”
Metro reported last week that a special cabinet decision and private donations had saved Kiryat Shmona’s cultural center and a library, both slated to be closed due to budget shortfalls.
New planes help put out blaze
A fire that broke out near the Gush Segev residential community of Lotem was contained on Sunday after 12 fire-fighting units gained control of the blaze. In addition to the fire-fighting teams, two JNF crews, two fire-fighting airplanes and a police helicopter were called to help in the effort. Before gaining control of the blaze, firefighters and police had begun preparations to evacuate Lotem’s residents.
The fire was one of several that broke out in the North over the weekend and which new fire-fighting planes helped extinguish.
Restaurateur must pay for not serving soldier
The owner of Haifa’s Azad restaurant was ordered to pay NIS 15,000 in compensation to an Israel Navy NCO for refusing him service in 2010 because he was wearing his military uniform.
Last year, Raviv Roth visited the Arab-owned restaurant for dinner with his girlfriend, and was informed it was against the restaurant’s policy to serve people in uniform.
Roth was welcome to return any time in civilian clothing, he was told by restaurant staff, who claimed customers were entitled to a relaxed and non-partisan atmosphere – out of uniform.
Roth left peacefully, but later filed a lawsuit against the restaurateur. His lawyer alleged that the restaurant had violated anti-discrimination laws and humiliated the sailor.
TA rolls out ‘quiet summer’ plans
Tel Aviv this week kicked off several summer programs aimed at providing activities for at-risk youths during the summer vacation, while keeping youngsters out of trouble and preventing night-time noise disturbances and vandalism. Three special patrol units are being sent into the streets during nighttime and on weekends.
Between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. every day this summer, five police cars will patrol the city’s streets in an effort to reduce disturbances to residents’ quality of life.
Another patrol, manned by parents, will walk through city parks and speak with gatherings of youths – an initiative that is being expanded after a successful run last year.
Lastly, groups of soldiers and youths doing their national service will be sent into the streets at night to provide youngsters with social activities.
In addition to the preventive measures being taken to keep the peace, the city is once again rolling out several social initiatives to occupy youngsters on summer vacation. Among the activities being offered is a series of “silent” dance parties in which a live DJ broadcasts dance music through wireless headphones distributed to party-goers in public spaces. The parties will take place between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. at the following locations: July 12 at Beit Barbour; July 19 at Gan Ha’atzma’ut; and August 2 at Gan Meir.
Robbed Shoah survivor bound, wounded
An 80-year-old Holocaust survivor from Petah Tikva was the victim of a home-invasion robbery this week in which she was left tied up in her home. She managed to call the police despite being left bound, and was evacuated by Magen David Adom units, lightly wounded, for medical treatment. Police opened an investigation into the robbery.
Best beaches of the month
Tel Aviv’s Hatzuk Beach North and Herzliya’s Acadia North were ranked the best in the nation in the second round of this year’s ongoing Blue-Green Flag beach rankings compiled by the Environmental Protection Ministry. The latest standings put both beaches at 98 percent.
Nordau and Metzitzim beaches in Tel Aviv received 97%; and Herzl Beach in Netanya and Jerusalem Beach in Tel Aviv, 96%.
This month’s worst offenders were the Separate (religious) Beach in Hadera and Michmoret South in Emek Hefer, at 57%; Sokolow in Nahariya, at 63%; and Olga South in Hadera and Bograshov in Tel Aviv, 67%; while Gordon Beach in Tel Aviv remains closed – and therefore unranked – owing to pollution.
Indicted for attacking, threatening cops
Three youths were indicted last week for attacking police officers and threatening a Rehovot store owner over a stolen bottle of vodka.
The trio arrived at a market attached to a Rehovot gas station late at night over the weekend and purchased several beers, which they proceeded to drink inside the store. After a short while, one of them stole a bottle of vodka, and they moved outside the store. The clerk on duty, worried about her safety, called the store owner, who arrived on the scene and asked the youths to return the stolen alcohol. When the youths threatened him and his family, he called the police.
When officers arrived, two of the three began cursing and attacking the officers. Their raucous behavior continued even in custody at the police station. The teenage offenders threw plastic cups and spat at officers, going so far as to threaten their lives, the Local website reported.
Body of missing woman found
In a tragic end to a nearly two-month search effort, police on Sunday said they had found the body of Leora Sabagi, a 38-year-old disabled woman who went missing from Ofakim in mid-May.
Sabagi’s car was found on an IDF firing range in the Negev, with the woman’s body inside the vehicle. The circumstances surrounding her death were unclear. The body was taken for autopsy to the Forensic Institute at Abu Kabir.
3 youths arrested for stabbings Police over the weekend detained three youths in Ashdod who participated in a large-scale brawl during which 13 people were injured by stab wounds. Police were set to question 12 of the youths, most of them from Ramle, who were injured in the fight that broke out in the city’s Lachish Park.
Another youth, stabbed in the neck, was hospitalized in critical condition. According to police, some of the youths were drunk during the incident and attacked each other with knives and broken bottles.
This was the second stabbing incident in the coastal city in the span of a week. On Saturday, a 16-year-old boy was seriously injured when he was stabbed on a beach in Ashdod.
Cat killer on the loose
For the second time in a week, dead cats have been found in central Eilat in suspicious circumstances that indicate serious animal abuse. Among other theories, police were investigating the possibility that youths were responsible for the deaths, or that a dog owner was allowing his pet to attack the felines, the Local website reported.
The incidents were discovered after police received a report from a local animal shelter. A forensic team was sent to gather evidence at the scene. Police had no suspects in the killings.
Beduin arrested in large drug raid
Police discovered 28 marijuana plants and some 500 gr. of the drug during a search this week near Ofakim. An additional 300 gr. of cocaine and 14 kg. of hashish were uncovered in the raid on a Beduin encampment. A 36-year-old man was arrested in the operation.
The search was conducted in the encampment near Bir Hadag with the aid of drug-sniffing dogs belonging to the Southern District Police, following intelligence information. The arrested man denied any connection to the drug stash and had his remand extended.