Israeli Rehab Center for Drug, Sex Offenders Due to Close

The center, in the lower Galilee, will close due to a bureaucratic dispute

FILE PHOTO: people enjoy the Sea of Galilee
Oded Balilty/AP

Northern Israel’s only rehabilitation center for sex offenders and drug addicts is set to close in May due to a bureaucratic dispute over use of the complex that houses the center, which is rented by the NGO that operates it. No alternative location for the rehab center has been found.

The NGO, Haderech, has been operating the center for almost a decade, with millions of shekels of government aid, at Tzalmon in the Lower Galilee. Every year hundreds of addicts are referred to the center by the Social Affairs Ministry and the courts for treatment and rehabilitation.

“Dismantling this rehabilitation center will be a fatal blow for the dozens of employees and the many patients in the middle of their treatment for severe substance abuse. There are no words that can describe the acute harm and the great injustice to current and future patients who will have no proper recourse, and all because of bureaucracy for which a solution can certainly be found,” said Dr. Amnon Peled, Haderech’s director.

Haderech has been renting the facility from the Mekorot Water Company since 2009. To convert if for use as a treatment center it underwent extensive renovations that cost millions of shekels, which was provided by the Anti-Drug Authority, a Justice Ministry forfeited-assets fund and the Social Affairs Ministry.

The latter transfers money on a monthly basis to cover operating costs. But in 2016, Haderech was informed that the Israel Lands Authority demanded that it evacuate the facility, which the ILA said was intended for waterworks and not as a drug abuse treatment center.

After MK Merav Ben Ari (Kulanu) and the Finance Ministry intervened, it was decided to postpone closure of the facility until May of this year. The purpose of the postponement, it was decided at the time, was to allow Haderech to find a permanent alternative site for the center, but the NGO could not find a facility that could treat about 100 people at a time. Haderech now says it will be unable to continue operating the center if it closes at its current location.

The Mekorot Water Company reportedly wants to continue renting the facility to the NGO, but is unable to do so because its use is defined as waterworks.

Treatment at the center, which is licensed by the Social Affairs Ministry and the Health Ministry, takes from four to nine months, and is based on the Twelve-Step Program, including medical, behavioral, emotional and spiritual intervention.