Netivot proposes separate shelters for Africans

In meeting with home front defense minister, official says separate bomb shelters would solve issues of scarcity, integration.

Bomb Shelter (370) (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Bomb Shelter (370)
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The city of Netivot has proposed a system of separate bomb shelters for the city’s African migrant population.
The idea was put forward during a meeting with the new Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter in the Negev city this week.
Netivot municipal spokesman Benny Cohen said the proposal was made to solve two issues: the fact that the 300 to 400 African migrants do not have access to bomb shelters in their residences, and because there would be “integration problems” with veteran Israelis seeking shelter. The move would see part of a building run by the Mekorot national water company modified to serve as a bomb shelter.
“Some of these people live in houses with 20 or 30 people near the old industrial zones in places where the don’t have access to shelters. So since they don’t have their own shelters they would have to go out and look for shelter throughout the neighborhoods,” said.
Cohen said that he and Mayor Yehiel Zohar told Dichter that there would be a problem of integration, because of “mental and cultural differences between them and the Israelis. There are many problems; people may worry that they [Africans] would bother them, or God forbid rape one of their daughters.”
He added that in Netivot, African migrants were often found sleeping in the portable bomb shelters set up to provide protection from Gazan rockets, a matter that sparks the ire of some veteran residents.
Cohen said Dichter welcomed the proposal during the meeting.
A spokesman for Dichter said the proposal was made in passing and that the minister “sees any solution that will give more protection to the home front as a positive thing.”