Dozens of chareidi families in Tzefas, 52, are living without electricity during these hot summer days, a reality blamed on the city engineer and mayor, who they say refuse to sign the necessary paperwork to connect them to the grid.
The deputy head of Agudas Yisrael in the city, Yisrael Nachman Gelbach asserts: “shocking opacity. The system rolls the blame from one to another.
“More than 50 families have been cut off from electricity for several days in the Tzefas and despite efforts and lobbying, Mayor Ilan Shochat and city engineer Chali Tali refuse to sign the form that will allow the Israel Electric Company (IEC) to connect the buildings to the electricity infrastructure.
These are residents of the Mitzpei Meron project, a project in which several people were arrested and interrogated, including Mayor Shochat and project initiator Ronen Ganon. Following the arrest, the project encountered difficulties, the developer was unable to finish the construction and a receiver came in to manage the construction – which delayed the granting of required form, called ‘Toffes Arba’ (Form 4). The residents, who were afraid of various delays, did not wait for the form and decided to move in. While this is not unusual in Israel, it is nonetheless illegal.
“This is not unusual in Tzefas, there are other buildings in the city without Toffes Arba, and that does not prevent anyone from living in them,” Gelbach told Kikar Shabbos News.
At the same time, the State Attorney’s Office forbade Shochat and the city engineer to deal with the project because of the investigation in which he is involved.
Last motzei Shabbos, a fire broke out in a building in an electrical box. The company workers who came to the site noticed that the building did not have the required form for occupancy and the electricity was shut off.
“It is a building with adults, toddlers, children and women, who have to get along in the heat and at night, the cold, on their own,” says Gelbach. “We held talks with the electric company, which claimed that it would connect the building to electricity when engineer’s approval is received, in addition to a form to be signed by the mayor and municipal engineer, according to which the mayor and the engineer claims that they are prohibited from signing. Deputy Mayor Arcady Berest will not help with signing an engineering as well” he adds.
“A similar form was signed and sent to IEC just a year ago, following a similar incident in the Nof Talya project in the mixed neighborhood of Kenan, but here, because of the circumstances, every single detail is so critical,” Gelbach said.
“This is a shocking opacity on the part of the system. It’s just hallucinatory, as there’s a little girl who’s only 5 days old and no one is interested?! Whom we did not involve, but so far, the solution is not in sight, and 52 families are left without electricity in their homes” he explains.
The residents are angered more than anything by the behavior of Mayor Shochat. On Wednesday night, when they came to protest in front of the municipality building about his refusal to sign the long-awaited document, the mayor threatened that the residents were “squatters” and that “I will issue eviction orders.”
The municipality of Tzefas is quoted telling Kikar Shabbos News that “we are sorry that political parties with vested interests are using the residents as a tool to play against the municipality, which is not the address for this crisis. At the same time, the municipality is promoting discussions with relevant parties, not empty headlines in the media.
“It is emphasized that the building is in a state of receivership without an occupancy form with licensing problems and a stop-work order, in which case keys were given to residents who illegally housed the apartments when connected to temporary electricity in a life-threatening manner. “The receiver is now responsible for arranging the safety issues and approvals required to obtain a housing form.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)