South Tel Aviv Security Much Improved, Say Long-time Residents

Police receive high marks for posting more cops at the old central bus station and other high-crime spots.

A recent decision to bolster the police presence in south Tel Aviv seems to have had a positive impact on residents’ sense of security, judging from the greeting Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch got when he toured the neighborhood Thursday.

People in south Tel Aviv have long accused the government of failing to deal with rising crime and other problems they blame on the area’s large population of African migrants. On previous visits the minister’s convoy was met with angry demonstrations. But this time, residents lavished praise on the police.

“There’s a significant difference, a dramatic difference today,” one resident said. “I’ve lived here for 50 years, and I work here, but I didn’t walk around here, and I wouldn’t let my children walk around here, until recently. Over the past few weeks, there’s been an increased police presence here, and security has been restored. Today, I let my daughters run around here.”

Mohammed Ali, who has lived in the neighborhood for 17 years, agreed. “The drug dealers used to stand under our house,” he said. “There were bars everywhere, with drunkards and violence. But in recent weeks, the police have been everywhere. They evicted the street vendors who dirtied everything, and it’s possible to live in this place again.”

A few weeks ago, Tel Aviv district police chief Bentzi Sau decided that improving residents’ sense of security should be a priority. He posted dozens of additional cops to the area, and ordered a policeman stationed at every playground in the Shapira and Hatikvah neighborhoods between 4 P.M. and 8 P.M., so children could play there without their parents’ worrying.

Yesterday Aharonovitch told residents that the government recently approved posting an additional 130 policemen in the area around the old central bus station.

“We won’t ease up,” he promised. “The forces will remain in the area, and we’ll increase them.”

Daniel Bar On