The Arab-owned Jerusalem Electric Company, responsible for providing electricity to several Arab-populated neighborhoods in Jerusalem, refuses to service the property of Yitzchak Herskovitz.
The energetic Yitzchak Herskovitz, 79, thought last year that his 17-year legal battle to reclaim his property from illegal Arab squatters had finally reached its happy ending. This was his reaction when the Supreme Court finally ordered the Arabs out. Little did he realize, however, that his attempt to retain Jewish-owned property for the Jewish Nation would continue to limp along with great hardship for months afterwards, with no end in sight.
The property is located in Beit Tsafafa, a mostly Arab neighborhood that for 19 years was divided down the middle by the ad-hoc borders drawn between Israel and Jordan following the War of Independence in 1948. In 1967, following the Six Day War, the entire neighborhood came under Israeli control. Herskovitz purchased the property in question in 1988, and when the sale became final five years later, he initiated proceedings to evict the Arab squatters.
Over the past eight months, Herskovitz has faced continued harassment and violence from his Arab neighbors – the former squatters – and has even had his hand broken in a stoning attack. But his main problem, and the longest-running, has been the refusal of the Arab-owned Jerusalem District Electric Company (JDEC) to provide him with electricity.
Herskovitz: Electric Company Discriminates Against Jews
“It’s a simple case of discrimination,” he says, “because I’m a Jew. The company claims that I have to have a Tofess Arba – which is a certificate of approval for occupancy. But this is a purposeful Catch-22 on their part – because the building was built before 1948, before the concept of Tofess Arba was instituted, and therefore cannot receive a Tofess Arba!”
A Tofess Arba – Form #4 – is the approval given by the city engineer asserting that a building has been checked and is fit to be connected to water, electric, phone and cable infrastructures.
City Exempts Him From Form – But JDEC Demands It
To add insult to injury, Herskovitz says, “The four Arab houses all around me also don’t have a Tofess Arba, yet they do receive electricity from the JDEC! Not only that, but while I have a legitimate reason for not having a Tofess Arba – and I even submitted a form from the municipality exempting my building from a Tofess Arba – the reason they don’t have one is because their houses were built illegally!”
Herskovitz explains that in order to receive a Tofess Arba, building plans must be submitted: “Obviously, I don’t have such plans, as the building was built decades ago, in 1939. But neither do the Arabs around me – yet they bribe their way into receiving electricity. I know this because when I asked a JDEC official why the Arabs have electricity, he told me to mind my own business…”
Back in July, Herskovitz paid the JDEC the sum of 9,295 shekels (approx. $2,600), as he was charged in a long, itemized bill, to have his house hooked up.
Herskovitz: Illegal Aliens Must be Deported!
Assuming that public pressure will ultimately help Herskovitz be connected to the electric grid, his problems will not be over. “My ‘kind’ illegal Arab neighbors have blocked up my home’s drainage pipes leading to the common sewage drain,” he says. “Once I have electricity, I’ll hopefully be able to work on the pipes and unblock them. Of course, the Arabs might block them up again – and therefore the real solution is for the police to do their job and evict these illegal aliens from the country!”
Herskovitz has hired a lawyer to represent him in his fight against the JDEC, and has written to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, asking him to “transfer the functions and duties of the JDEC to the Israel Electric Company.”
MK to Get Involved
Israel National News has learned that the parliamentary aide of a Knesset Member has taken interest in the case, and the MK will present a parliamentary inquiry to Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau regarding the Jerusalem District Electric Company’s discrimination against Herskovitz.
Infrastructures Minister Landau can be faxed at 02-500-6715 (from abroad: +9722-500-6715).
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