From left, Katya Rosenberg, Olga Babchanov and friend at court.
From left, Katya Rosenberg, Olga Babchanov and friend at court. Photo by Eli Hershkowitz
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The small Dimona Magistrate's Court is calm and clean, and the security guards know most of those who come and go by name. "We keep it clean like it was our home," says a court employee. "Even the toilets are sparkling. The court workers paint the walls once in a while."

Judge Avishai Zevulun comes to the court three days week from Herzliya, some 160 kilometers away. He seems to be acting as a judge and a social worker - most of the people he hears in court are barely getting by.

Katya Rosenberg, a pensioner fined with two neighbors for excessive litter in their yards, pleads to the judge: "Sweetheart, you've got to understand. Even if the yard was dirty, it's not our fault. People walk by our building and throw things."

Zevulun patiently tries to calm the three women down: "I'll see what I can do, but you have to pay the fine."

"But we don't have money to eat - we live on National Insurance," chimes in another pensioner, Olga Babchanov. "It's true the yard was dirty, but what do they expect? That 70-year-old women would keep the building clean 24 hours a day?"

Zevulun relents. He splits the fine into installments and advises the pensioners to go to city hall and have the fine canceled. "It can be done," he says. "But you better go today."