Is Ramla becoming haredi? Ultra-Orthodox newspapers published last week featured ads announcing a new project about to be launched: "The City Gates project in Ramla – the new haredi district."
The ads included telephone numbers and an address in the city of Bnei Brak as contact details for those interested in taking part in the project.
An inquiry revealed that the address mentioned leads to a representative of the Boneh Olam company, who offers apartments as part of an extensive project for the haredi population, which will include thousands of housing units. Construction is said to begin in the city of Ramla after the High Holidays.
The representative collects a sum of NIS 800 (about $223) from those interested in the project. He says that 550 people have already registered.
Looking for a new home be in Ramla? (Archive photo: Zvika Tishler)
It appears, however, that the Resido company which won the tender for the project hasn't even heard of Boneh Olam.
"The Boneh Olam company or anyone on its behalf has never been authorized to act in the name or on behalf of Resido, as its representative or agent, and to distribute information or make any display in regards to the landed property or company," Resido said in a statement.
An Israel Land Administration official said that the area under discussion has construction rights for only 224 housing units, which are subject to the implementation of all evacuations according to the City Construction Plan.
The Interior Ministry and Israel Antiquities Authority, on the other hand, haven't heard of this grandiose plan.
"We have yet to receive a proper appeal for a building permit in the center of Ramla," said an Antiquities Authority official. "This issue is being clarified with the licensing authorities.
"Should we find out that such a program is indeed being promoted, the Authority will seriously examine its stance in regards to the development plans, as this is one of the most important antiquity sites in Ramla, which may be declared a World Heritage Site."