Photo: Yehudit Ilani

Jaffa's Jews, Arabs join forces

City’s Ajami neighborhood, usually scene of sectoral rift, sees inhabitants in joint effort against demolition of park in favor of parking lot. Municipality freezes construction in attempt to clarify residents’ claims

Jaffa’s Jewish, Arab and Christian inhabitants have joined forces, and no, this is not a vision of the end of days.


It turns out that the only thing needed is an institution to join forces against and then no one has a problem joining hands in unison.


Ask the Tel Aviv municipality and the Israel Land Administration, who planned on destroying a neighborhood park in Jaffa’s Ajami neighborhood and paving a parking lot.


The public park on the corner of the streets Korchak and Toulouse is considered a gem for the Ajami residents. A bit of grass and a few trees are a rare commodity in the landscape of the sea-adjacent neighborhood.


The residents, who discovered the additional plan to pave two streets at the site, began their struggle on Thursday afternoon. “How can it be that they are doing this construction without letting the inhabitants know,” said journalist Rino Tzror, a neighborhood resident.


“They didn’t put one sign up and didn’t notify us about anything. They probably knew that we would oppose this construction, and rightly so,” he said.


“The municipality promised us that this park will serve us for at least 30 more years,” said Yehudit Ilani, a resident who was shocked by the sudden appearance at 12 pm of a bulldozer that arrived from nowhere and began to demolish the park.

Construction at Jaffa's Ajami park (Photo: Yehudit Ilani)


The residents did not give up their fight. A short while after the construction began and after five trees were de-rooted, the enraged residents stood in front of the bulldozer and demanded to clarify the construction worker’s intentions.


“He explained that he has a permit to demolish the park,” said one of the protesters.


“Only then did we understand that there are plans to construct a parking lot and two streets at the expense of our quality of our life. I am not even talking about the legal aspect of building at a distance of less than 300 meters (984 feet) from the shoreline.”


The angered inhabitants eventually managed to compromise with the engineer responsible for the construction and in a reconciliatory fashion, it was decided to freeze construction for a few days until the facts were brought to light.


A statement released by the Tel Aviv Municipality stated that the chairman of Jaffa’s Urban Zoning Corporation instructed that construction be halted until the residents’ claims were clarified.


The municipality will also look into whether or not a place which was supposed to remain intact was in fact destroyed.


“In any case, the inhabitants were invited for a meeting with council members and we believe that a solution will be found in concord with the necessary construction in the area,” the statement said.


פרסום ראשון: 10.19.08, 09:02
 new comment
This will delete your current comment