Over the years the Israeli Immigration Policy Center has become a center of support and assistance for residents of south Tel Aviv who are coping not only with collapsing infrastructure in their neighborhoods, but also with the authorities’ aloofness to their plight. The Israeli Immigration Policy Center has been giving assistance and legal counselling to residents who are facing abuse at the hands of municipality officials, acted and continues to act to right wrongs that were created and helps in communicating the issue to the media in order to bring improvement to the lives of residents of South Tel Aviv.
The story of Sophie Menashe encapsulates the dereliction and anarchy that one encounters upon entering the south Tel Aviv neighborhoods. The life story of Menashe over the past decade tells a larger story of Israeli citizens who have become a minority in their homes. This story happened in all the neighborhoods with large migrant concentrations, like the ones in the south of Tel Aviv.
Sophie Menashe lives on Lewinski Street, near the central bus station. The apartment in which Sophie lives is on the fifth floor of a building which is populated almost entirely by young African men who have entered Israel illegally. The change in the demographic makeup of the building has created a situation where there is no longer a tenant board that cares for the building’s cleanliness, or for it having functioning light bulbs in the common stairwell, caring the building’s safety etc. After vandals tore out all the post boxes in the building’s lobby, Sophie needed to open a separate P.O.B at the postal service branch in the central bus station. There, most floors of the cavernous building are dimly lit, since the building’s maintenance is negligent about changing the lights bulbs, and what’s worse, drug addicts and illegal migrants smash the light bulbs so that they can conduct drug deals and visit prostitutes in the building’s stairwells and halls in the dark. In Sophie’s building, the common stairwell is filthy and on weekends the yard is full of illegal aliens coming from all over the country. After the Israeli tenants left and the tenant board disbanded, there was no ongoing maintenance of the roof for years, and the ceiling in Sophie’s apartment began falling apart.
Over the years, the new tenants illegally hooked up to the water system, and as a result Sophie began paying inflated water bills. Following recurring theft of gas canisters, Sophie was forced to stop using a gas stove altogether and started cooking with an electric stovetop. In addition to all this, Sophie received recurring fines from Tel Aviv Municipality because of the amounts of trash and empty syringes accumulating in the building’s front garden, and her being the only verifiable resident of the building left .
The Israeli Immigration Policy Center has been acting with the Tel Aviv Municipality in order to bring about a cancelation of the fines Sophie received, as well as to issue an instruction that she does not get additional fines. In addition, the IIPC acted to reduce Sophie’s exorbitant water bills. Eventually, after a piece on Sophie’s living conditions was aired on a Finnish television station – the result of an initiative of the IIPC – an anonymous sponsor financed sealing for Sophie Menashe’s roof. Following the efforts of the IIPC, Sophie’s story received widespread coverage and she was even given a private escort by Israel Police’s Sharet station, near the Lewinski Street Park.
The case of Sophie Menashe is an example of the lives of many residents who have been neglected by government, municipal and law enforcement agents, as a result of illegal migration into Israel.
Eventually, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived at Sophie Menashe’s building and saw the difficult sights there. This caused him to decide to hasten resolution of the problem.
Damages claim of Corinne Galili
In March 2010 Ester Galili, 70, was beaten to death by an illegal Sudanese migrant in the early morning hours, after returning from her local grocery store in south Tel Aviv. The illegal migrant was detained by the police shortly before he committed the murder but was released with no continuing treatment.
The Israeli Immigration Policy Center helped Corinne Galili, Esther’s daughter, in preparing a first-of-its-kind damages claim. This was filed by attorney Edi Hameiri. The IIPC also helped bring the case to the media.