Building Environmental Hazards In Tel Aviv and Jaffa

Not far from Tel Aviv is Jaffa, a port city founded thousands of years ago made famous by stories about Jonah and the Whale and Andromeda from Greek mythology. Today Jaffa is home to a beautiful beach in a neighbourhood called Ajami ("Arabic for strangers"). The area is seeing the effects of gentrification. For years the area was a dumping site of municipal waste and landfill creating a Leslie Spit-esque type of new land mass. Active until the 80s, the city stopped dumping there when the Arab neighbours complained about illnesses they were getting from all the exposed trash. Fast-forward to today. Amid claims of rising anti-Jewish sentiments in the mixed Jewish, Arab, and Christian city of Jaffa, the community is banding together and working with lawyers to enforce environmental laws. Extreme amounts of dust and loud noise well beyond the legal limits they say have become unbearable for Ajami residents, some living right on the shore of the Ajami beach which is recently become part of new development project—to turn heaps of rubble into a public park. The manner in which the Arab and Jewish residents have come together on fighting this perceived environmental crime is a poster book story for a model on healthy coexistence in the colourful and surprising city of Jaffa. ::See story at JPostIsrael has good laws, say Israeli lawyers working in the public sector. The problem is enforcing them. While speaking to Hen Tirosh, from the Tel Aviv University legal clinic, about the dust and noise pollution in Jaffa - Tirosh drew parallels to some of our personal complaints in Tel Aviv connected to the construction of Migdal Neve Zedek. The new swank building, which towers over the quaint and old-fashioned homes of Neve Zedek has been rife with careless constructing management since its onset. Two workers died early this year and many people remain at risk of flying debris, omnipresent cement dust created by the mixer outside residents' windows and excessive noise. We haven't opened our windows in 3 years! About one month ago a piece of wooden scaffolding about 4 meters long flew and speared our neighbour's studio. We brought Tirosh over to take a look.

Cement bags, chunks of Styrofoam, blueprints (you name it!) has been flying off the building. Two weeks ago, we even found a dumpster full of old asbestos plasterboard as part of the company's bid to restore some of the on-site Templar buildings near the new construction project.

Our complaints to the city on noise, pollution, and flying objects appear to be futile. But thanks to the help of the free legal services provided by lawyers such as Tirosh, our complaints may be heard. In the meantime, we wait patiently in Tel Aviv and Jaffa, for the pains of the construction projects to be finished so we can go back to having an otherwise semi-peaceful life. It is the Middle East after all. ::JPost