Mum's the Law / Proposed Regulations Would Shush You and Your Noisy Car Alarm

Israel is generally considered a noisy country, blessed with an abundance of car horns, alarms and loud talkers. Should the noise-reduction regulations promoted by Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan be approved, however, Israel may soon enjoy an almost European quiet - at least on paper.

The new guidelines would limit the noise allowed to be emitted from televisions or musical instruments in private homes, and apartment dwellers would be forbidden from yelling or singing at a volume perceived to be disruptive to neighbors.

The plan would even clamp down on boisterous singing behind the wheel. Noisy vehicle alarms would be banned completely, and owners of cars with such systems would be given a grace period in which to upgrade.

Erdan's plan would limit the use of firecrackers to isolated areas at least one kilometer from residential buildings, and building work would be limited to certain hours of the day.

The use of megaphones and public address systems will be prohibited during the afternoon and night, and allowed only on certain holidays and at schools. The proposal would also ban municipalities from operating leaf blowers in residential areas during certain hours.

The ministry is now putting the finishing touches on the proposal before submitting it to the Knesset. The proposal, however, does not explicitly state the level of noise pollution that can be considered a "disturbance."

Last year over 1,500 police reports were filed for noise-related offenses, and 17 percent of all complaints of environmental hazards in Tel Aviv were related to noise.

Officials at the Environmental Protection Ministry said that even if the new guidelines are approved, enforcement of noise-pollution regulations would remain under the purview of local authorities.

The new rules, they said, would simply aid those authorities in distinguishing which activities are prohibited by law.