Wide State Plan Aims to Reduce Crime, Up Social Support in Lod

Mixed city to receive NIS 160 million from handful of ministries.

The cabinet is expected to approve a broad-based plan Sunday to reduce crime and strengthening social support systems in Lod, a town which has recently attracted national attention for the spate of murders there.

The plan, which will cost an estimated NIS 160 million over the next five years, includes a number of stated goals, among them reduction of crime and increased personal safety and the strengthening of social supports for residents.

Lod - Moti Milrod - Oct. 29, 2010
Moti Milrod

The plan also calls for the rehabilitation of the Pardes Snir neighborhood, where a woman, the latest murder victim in the city, was killed, and in the Ganei Aviv neighborhood, as well as development of tourism and industrial zones. Funding for the program will come from a variety of government ministries.

The State Control Committee also instructed State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss this week to prepare a special report on the deteriorating situation in Lod.

As part of the new plan, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will give the Public Security Ministry 30 days to prepare a detailed plan to rein in the level of crime and violence in Lod.

The ministry will be called upon to implement an expanded anti-violence program there, set up a situation room and install an advanced network of security cameras around the city.

The ministry will also be required to draw up a plan within a month for the enforcement of laws against illegal construction and trespassing.

The Social Welfare Ministry and social service agencies will be asked within 60 days to provide Netanyahu with a plan to improve social services in the mixed Arab-Jewish city, which is to include the addition of five social workers, some of whom will be Arabic speakers.

The deputy chairman of the municipal parents' council, Abed Azbarga, welcomed the plan yesterday, but also reacted with some skepticism, saying: "If this is really a serious decision and they are going to invest, I very much welcome this. It can save Lod, but it needs to be a genuine investment and not putting out fires." She added, "The situation in Lod is very frustrating."

The Culture and Sports Ministry will be asked to allocate up to NIS 800,000 for cultural activities in Lod over the next two years, and the Ministry of Minority Affairs is to provide a budget of about NIS 3 million to improve the status of Lod's Arab population.

Among other provisions in the plan is an organizational analysis of how the city's government functions, to be followed by improvements in local government.

The Tourism Ministry is being required to devise plans within six months for tourism in Lod's Old City, while the Transportation Ministry is set to carry out projects to enhance transportation access and safety in Lod and its vicinity at a cost of tens of millions of shekels.

Tomorrow evening a local group representing a cross-section of Lod residents is planning on demonstrating at one of the entrances to the city.

Aharon Atias, a Jewish member of the group, said: "We are demanding that the Israeli government take responsibility for the security of Lod."

He called the proposed plan "too little over too short a period," and added: "A lot of things in the plan are recycled. In 2002, the prime minister at the time, Ariel Sharon, came to town and promised budgets for the city and it wasn't carried out. With all due respect for the Israeli government, we want to see action and we will monitor things" as they unfold.