Jaffa's central artery, Jerusalem Boulevard, was blocked to traffic last last week for light rail construction works, severely harming local businesses, causing traffic and angering residents. And this is just the beginning.
Traffic has been diverted from the boulevard's southbound road, and the northbound one will close soon too. The construction is expected to take two and a half years, sending residents and business owners into despair.
Jaffa's residents protested and waged a legal battle against the expected closure of the boulevard, but were unable to stop it
Dozens of bus lines no travel along the boulevard and shops have been forsaken, as narrow sidewalks are lined with metal fences, which barely allow passage for foot traffic, let accommodate the overhang from massive vehicles.
Despite the free shuttle service that the municipality has launched, Jaffa's old and narrow streets are paralyzed with traffic, as key bus lines leading to Tel Aviv, Holon and Bat Yam were moved to the city's eastern arreas.
While Tel Aviv municipality promises a bright future for the boulevard and for local residents, the prospect of the avenue being closed on both directions angers and worries the Jaffa community.
Some merchants say they are already thinking about closing down their businesses, and some residents are even considering moving to nearby cities to avoid the looming years of chaos.
Abed Isa has had a bicycle shop on Jerusalem Boulevard for the past 40 years.
"We've never seen such difficult times," he says. "There's no livelihood, nothing."
"If they don't reduce our municipal taxes accordingly, we'll have to close," says Isa's neighbor, also a shop owner.
Zichrini Ger, a fashion designer and boutique owner, says that women used to see her display windows from the bus window and become acquainted with her work.
"Now there are no buses and the number of customers has dropped sharply," she says. "I sell to shops in Tel Aviv, and trucks used to park on the boulevard to load boxes. Now it's impossible, and there's nothing I can do about it."
Karim has had a kiosk on the avenue for more than five years, and is feeling the impact already.
"This is the first time I had ever had to tell the cigarette supplier not to come," he says. "My inventory stayed as it was as there are no clients, and this used to be a place that was really successful. They've messed up our lives."
Other businesses offer deals, sales, free delivery or simply put out posters thanking customers for remaining loyal.
It is not only shop owners feel under siege.
"Who is the evil person who planned this?" asks Oz Avrahami, who lives near the boulevard. "There's traffic everywhere, it's hard to even leave the house. No one can last much longer like this. Our neighbors have already said they are moving to Tel Aviv; this amazing place will be empty of people."
Lior Shahar, a mother of two, adds: "This is an attack on our daily lives. It now takes my girls an hour and a half to get to their school. Everybody is just sitting in traffic, and I can't even imagine what would happen if rescue services need to rush to the area in an emergency.
"This just goes to show the disrespect for Jaffa. No one would dream of closing down Rothschild Boulevard," Shahar says, referring to the high-end avenue that runs through the middle of Tel Aviv.
Neta, the municipal public transportation company that is building the Tel Aviv light rail, said in response that it is "in touch with local businesses and answers all queries. However, the changes to transportation routes is necessary for the building of the red tram line, which a million people are expected to use."
"The light rail will be launched in two and a half years, and will greatly improve the welfare of residents and merchants around Jerusalem Boulevard. For the duration of the works, the boulevard will be open to pedestrians and bicycles, and we have invested NIS 10 million in a free shuttle service to assist residents," the company said.