Instead of a Park, Neglected Arab Neighborhood of Lod to Get a Massive Police Station

Illustration. Photo by Mirah Curzer

Kerem Al-Tufaah, an impoverished Arab neighborhood in the city of Lod, has only one public space – a neglected plot of land where local children come to play.  Instead of correcting a historical wrong and finally creating a master plan for the neighborhood that uses the space to improve the residents’ quality of life, the Regional Planning Committee has approved the construction of a seven-story municipal police station on the lot. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), along with Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights, filed a petition yesterday on behalf of local residents in the District Court for Administrative Matters in the Central District. The petition alleges that the Planning Committee failed to take into account the residents’ opposition or the social considerations associated with the building of a giant police station in the middle of the neighborhood, and did not adequately examine alternative sites for the station.
For a map of Lod, click here.
For an aerial photo showing a possible alternate location for the police station, click here.

The Arab minority in Israel has suffered from discriminatory policies and practices in the field of planning, land, and development. Up until now, there has been a lack of representation of Arab citizens in Israel in the State planning committees and divisions that decide upon planning and building laws. The Arab neighborhoods in the city of Lod are among the poorest and most neglected in Israel.  The city is currently developing a new master plan, and the decision of Planning Committee to build a seven story police station in Kerem Al-Tufaah bodes poorly for neighborhood residents. ACRI and Bimkom are working to ensure that the planning process includes adequate public participation and community representation.
Ibrahim Abu-Sa’lok, representative of the residents and one of the petitioners: “There can be no explanation for a neighborhood in a large city in central Israel in the twenty first century looking like a refugee camp. After years of neglect, when the residents’ only connection to the municipality was their municipal tax bill, they are finally granting us this “gift” – a huge police building that will usurp from the neighborhood the only area where can a park for the public good can still be established.”
Attorney Auni Bana, Director of Arab Minority Rights Department at ACRI: “Throughout the process we have seen that local residents of Kerem Al-Tufaah are invisible to the authorities. In violation of the law, the authorities did not bother to inform them about the plan, casually rejected their objections and did even always bother to answer their inquiries.  There is no justification – legal or moral – for the disparaging treatment and blatant discrimination against these residents in favor of Lod’s other residents, and it is impossible to ignore the clear national (ethnic) taint of this discrimination.”
City Planner Cesar Yehudkin from Bimkom: “Not only does the neighborhood of Kerem Al-Tufaah currently not exist in the eyes of the authorities and planning institutions, it never will. There is no other way to understand the choice to build the Central Police Headquarters specifically in the neighborhood.  Instead of addressing the basic needs of residents of low socioeconomic standing – such as housing solutions, infrastructure and education – and trying to improve their quality of life, the authorities prefer to advance a plan without examining in depth the degree of suitability to the local environment and its long term consequences.”

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Categories: Arab Citizens of Israel, Arab Minority Rights, Housing Rights, Land Distribution and Planning Rights, Social and Economic Rights

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