Guards Barring Homeless From Entering South Tel Aviv Shelters

The municipality has placed guards at shelters after homeless people, mainly migrants from Africa, tried to sleep in them.

Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior
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Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior

The Tel Aviv municipality has placed security guards at entrances to public bomb shelters that opened Saturday night in the southern part of the city after homeless people, mostly migrants from Africa, tried to sleep there.

The guards prevent entry to the shelters, except when warning sirens sound.

A random sample of such shelters showed that only shelters in the southern part of the city, where there is a high concentration of migrants, have guards.

"Can we come in?" a few children asked one of the guards at a shelter in the Shapira neighborhood yesterday evening. The answer was no.

"And if there is an alert?"

"Then yes. But there won't be many alerts," said the guard in an attempt to calm the children.

"It is sad that at a time all Israeli citizens are seeking shelter, there are those who think it is right to spend public money on separating between those who can enter the shelters and those who can't," said Omer Shatz, an attorney with the We are Refugees - Legal Aid to Refugees nonprofit organization.

"It is clear that people who do not have a home are many times more exposed to harm than people who have protected spaces, and therefore there is no place to differentiate between north and south, white and black," said Shatz.

The city did answer Haaretz's question as to how many shelters have such guards, what their instructions are and how much the guards cost.

But the city said it had placed guards not only in the southern part of the city. "As part of the city's preparations for emergency [situations] the city operates a system of supervision and control of public shelters all over the city with municipal workers and guards. This is an attempt to keep the shelters open, usuable, clean, orderly and appropriate to host the public in times of real [emergencies.]"

Shelters are checked twice a day all over the city, and if problems are found they are repaired immediately, said the city.

"The shelters are supposed to provide a solution for residents in times of emergency and are not a regular place for sleeping," said the city. "Therefore we will not allow permanent habitation there."

A security guard at the entrance to a bomb shelter in south Tel Aviv.Credit: Ofer Vaknin
African migrants sitting in Tel Aviv's Levinsky park.Credit: Moti Milrod
A homeless man in Tel Aviv.Credit: Ofer Vaknin

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