City notes: Safed seeks new courthouse

Mayor Ilan Shohat seeking funding for the project; Tel Aviv taxi drivers saw a 5 percent increase in business during last weeks strike; Marijuana operation discovered in Eilat.

Israeli courtroom 300 R (photo credit: REUTERS)
Israeli courtroom 300 R
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Safed Mayor Ilan Shohat undertook renewed efforts this week to seek funding from the Finance and Justice ministries to build a new courthouse in the city. The effort comes as the municipality has found and allocated a suitable space for the structure.
For decades, the Safed Magistrate’s Court has been located at the old British Tegart Fort, serving tens of thousands of residents from Safed, Hatzor Haglilit, Rosh Pina, Kiryat Shmona, Merom Hagalil and various other communities, including Mount Hermon.
Shohat described the state of the court building as “a shame and disgrace to the legal system and the State of Israel. Hundreds of people swarm the court’s doors every day into narrow corridors and halls with tiny chambers for judges and secretaries.” The building, he added, lacks any parking or other elementary services. He said that on a recent visit, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch had described the situation as a “fiasco” of the justice system.
“Indeed, there is a need to move the Safed court to a suitable and appropriate structure,” said a court spokeswoman. “The [situation] was brought to the attention of the justice minister, the ministry’s Budget Division, and the government housing authority.”
The Finance Ministry said the subject was under review, according to the Local website.
Safed college lecture hall burns
A fire caused serious damage to one of the lecture halls at the Safed Academic College this week. Early Sunday morning, Galilee-Golan firefighters received a call reporting a fire in one of the buildings at the college.
Three teams from the Safed fire station were dispatched to the scene. After an hour of battling the blaze, firefighters managed to put it out, but the lecture hall suffered great damage.
Fire investigators were looking into the cause of the blaze – whether it was caused by a technical malfunction or possibly arson. All possibilities will be investigated, firefighters said.
Scuba diver dies off Haifa coast
Police found the body of a scuba diver who had been missing since last Friday at Hotrim Beach near Haifa on Saturday. Magen David Adom paramedics pronounced the 50-year-old resident of Kibbutz Ein Hacarmel dead on the scene.
The man had gone scuba diving with several friends in the area on Friday, failing to return to shore. Police were investigating the circumstances of his death.
CENTER ‘Erasing the hyphen between TA and Jaffa’
The city of Tel Aviv-Jaffa held a three-day festival on Arab culture, as part of an effort to empower and foster the Jaffa Arab community. The festival, which took place at the Arab-Jewish Community Center in the city’s Ajami neighborhood last weekend, included a variety of activities for families and offered a taste of different cultural areas.
Among these activities were a book fair, an exhibition of traditional and antique items, photographs and artwork, a market of stalls selling handicrafts, and a Beduin tent erected at the site. In the afternoons, activities for children were available, including a petting zoo, fishing, beading and pottery workshops, henna tattoo workshops, storytelling and performances. There were also concerts and performances by local musicians.
Tel Aviv-Jaffa Mayor Ron Huldai said he hoped the festival would “become a tradition for local residents to help erase the hyphen between Tel Aviv and Jaffa,” and added that visitors were invited to “experience a little of what this wonderful culture has to offer.”
TA taxi drivers benefit from general strike
Taxi drivers in the greater Tel Aviv area benefited from the shortened general strike that the Histadrut Labor Federation called last week. The Monday strike lasted for four hours, leading to bus lines being canceled during the morning rush hour.
According to Israel Radio, taxi drivers received 5 percent more business during the strike than they would have on a regular work day.
Parking card users get temporary reprieve
The Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality decided to extend the validity of paper-parking cards by three months after announcing previously that it would no longer honor them starting last week. Residents are urged to use cards they have already purchased, as municipal inspectors will honor those only until February 13. The Postal Service, which held an exclusive contract to distribute the cards, will cease selling them, the city said in a statement.
Due to decreased use of the scratch-off cards sold at kiosks and markets, along with increased availability of electronic and mobile payment options – and in addition to the growing phenomenon of counterfeit parking cards – the city decided to end this payment option.
Cards sold by the Haifa and Jerusalem municipalities will also no longer be honored in Tel Aviv come February. However, the city will continue to honor national parking cards for the time being. Electronic payment methods for parking in Tel Aviv, which will soon be the only options, include the mobile phone Cellupark service, EZ Park and Pango.
Prisoner hangs himself in TA jail
A 32-year-old man hanged himself in a cell at Tel Aviv’s Abu Kabir jail, the Prisons Service announced over the weekend. Guards found the prisoner, who was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, in the shower inside his cell, hanging from a torn bed sheet.
Upon discovering the man, guards called Magen David Adom paramedics, who pronounced him dead. An investigation of the incident was launched.
‘Wheels of Love’ raises cash for hospital
The annual international bicycle tour “Wheels of Love” took place this week in the Center of the country. The benefit, which included riders from several countries worldwide, aimed to raise money and awareness for the Pediatric and Adolescent Rehabilitation Center at Jerusalem’s Alyn Orthopedic Hospital.
Participants in the five-day riding event raised $1.8 million, with more donations expected in the coming weeks. The hospital expects $2.25m. in total donations.
Alyn is the leading rehabilitation hospital in the country for children and youth suffering from a wide range of disabilities and physical conditions.
Service taxi flips over near Ramle
At least 10 passengers were injured, one seriously, when a service taxi flipped over in Ramle last week. The seriously injured passenger, a 25-year-old woman, was taken to Assaf Harofeh Hospital in Tzrifin for treatment. Police arrived at the scene to investigate the circumstances behind the crash.
Eilat hosts int’l gymnastics competition
Some 150 local and international athletes arrived in Eilat last weekend for an international gymnastics competition sponsored by the Eilat Municipality, the Workers Council, and the Lending a Hand to Eilat’s Children Association. The 150 female athletes between the ages of six and 15 hailed from 70 different towns, including two athletes from Eilat. International competitors arrived from Russia, the Ukraine, Poland, Germany, Norway, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Bulgaria.
The competition was part of a municipal strategy to put the southern city on the map as a rebranded tourism hub and center for sports competitions. Last month, the city hosted the European Open Water Swimming Championships, for which swimmers from 22 countries arrived. At the end of this year, the city will host a Formula 3 motor race, including a “drifting” competition, and will see the arrival of drivers from across Europe.
‘Jewish Eye’ film festival returns to Ashkelon
The Ashkelon Cultural Center officially opened the eighth annual “Jewish Eye” World Jewish Film Festival this week. The festival, which runs until November 21, features films from around the world that focus on Jewish culture and identity.
The production is sponsored by the Ashkelon Municipality, the Ashkelon Academic College and the Ashkelon Foundation.
This year, the festival will include a competition in the categories of feature films, full-length documentaries, and television films.
According to festival producer Oded Guy, “this year, a special part of the festival will be dedicated to Jewish music. At least 10 films dealing with Jewish music in all of its forms will be screened.” The producers of all the films will be present for the screenings. All films will be screened with Hebrew subtitles.
More information about the festival can be found at
Customs finds marijuana operation in Eilat
Two marijuana-growing labs were discovered by the Department of Customs and VAT’s drug unit after the Postal Service found a package with marijuana seeds. The package was sent to a police drug laboratory, which confirmed that it indeed contained an illegal drug.
An undercover police detective then arranged to deliver the package to the man listed on the shipping bill. The suspect, an Eilat resident in his 40s, opened the door for the detective and signed the delivery form to receive the package. At that point, the detective identified himself and arrested the man.
A search of the suspect’s home led to the discovery of two different marijuana-growing laboratories on two floors of the house. The labs included planters, lighting systems, a drying area, and irrigation and ventilation systems. Forty seedlings and mature plants were found, in addition to packaged marijuana, cash and various other drugs.
The suspect and his wife were detained for questioning, during which they claimed the drug was solely for personal use. The wife was released on bail, but the suspect remained in custody.