lod - Nir Kafri - October 8 2010
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his entourage – including Interior Minister Eli Yishai, third from left – touring Lod yesterday. Photo by Nir Kafri
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday that he refuses to allow Lod to turn into "the Wild West."

Netanyahu made the remark at an emergency meeting in Lod with Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Interior Minister Eli Yishai, called in response to the recent spate of murders in the city.

"We are obligated to act, and we will act with all the means at our disposal" to counter the violence, Netanyahu said.

The prime minister said he called the meeting to show that the government and the various agencies responsible for reducing the violence were serious about doing so.

He said the government would give priority to efforts to encourage tourism and get young couples to move to the town.

"The first condition for [achieving these goals] is to ensure the personal safety of the citizens," he added. "Everyone deserves equal rights and security. People have to know that they can walk the streets without being hurt or killed."

Netanyahu said he was sure the steps the government planned would "benefit Lod and all of us."

Yishai said people were leaving Lod for Modi'in and other nearby locales, but "we plan to bring at least 50,000 people to Lod in the coming year. There are plans that have been approved, and plans that will be approved soon."

Aharonovitch praised the police, but said they would be even more effective with the increased forces that have been deployed in the city over the past two days. He said Lod would be the first of several cities to take part in a pilot project to install a network of security cameras.

Aharonovitch also said that beginning yesterday, a balloon-mounted surveillance camera had been deployed over the northern part of the city, broadcasting photos 24 hours a day directly to the local police station.

On a tour of the city on Wednesday, Aharonovitch also said the larger numbers of police now deployed in the city would be stationed there permanently, and one of their main tasks would be to round up the numerous illegal weapons.

However, representatives of the city's Arab community made clear yesterday that they would advise their community not to cooperate with the police. Many Arab residents of Lod have expressed anger at the way police have handled the violence in their city so far.

Meanwhile, police yesterday arrested the brother of Lod murder victim Amal Khalili's ex-husband. Shortly before Khalili's murder earlier this week, the brother, who is suspected of ordering the killing, flew to Europe. He was arrested yesterday morning on his return, and will be brought to the Ramle Magistrate's Court this morning for a remand hearing.