This week, the Court accepted ACRI’s request to return electricity to families who were unjustly disconnected from the grid.
Petah Tikva’s Mayor Itzik Braverman has declared war on Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers who reside in the city, and has made it clear that he is willing to use all means to chase them out. In the middle of winter, the Municipality ordered apartments on 2 Gutman Street – where asylum seekers live – be cut off from the electrical grid. For an entire week, families, some with children, had no electricity, no heat, and no hot water. When authorities came to disconnect the electricity and residents asked what was happening, they were told, “You’re Eritrean; you cause trouble.”
The mayor, who just a few months ago refused to allow asylum seekers’ children to register for nursery schools in the city, now claims that the apartments in question were illegally subdivided, and that disconnecting the electricity did not target asylum seekers, but rather was a measure taken against landlords due to building violations. Really? The Municipality has numerous methods at its disposal to combat construction violations, and can use criminal, civil, and administrative means. Why punish the renters? They did not commit the violations and shouldn’t bear the brunt of the landlords’ actions. Cutting basic services, while infringing on individuals’ basic rights, is a drastic move that should be reserved for extreme situations.
ACRI filed a petition against the Petach Tikva Municipality about the electricity cuts in the apartments located at 2 Gutman Street. A week later, residents of 2 Gutman Street regained access to electricity. However, the Municipality continues to cut electricity to additional apartments. In fact, the Israel Electric Corporation informed ACRI that it received 60 requests from the Municipality to disconnect homes from electricity.
ACRI attorneys Oded Feller and Tal Hassin filed an urgent petition with the District Court in Lod on behalf of ACRI, Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, and ASSAF Aid Organization for Refugees. We demanded that until the hearings on the petition are held, apartments that had been disconnected from electrical services be reconnected, and that no further electricity cuts be enacted. Our request was granted, and the court ordered that the supply of electricity be returned to the apartments where it had been cut, and that there be no further electricity and water cuts until the hearing on March 27.
Mayor Braverman, we’ll see you in court.
Adv. Sharon Abraham-Weiss
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel