Video: Will Customers Return?

Jerusalem's once-thriving Jaffa Street is undergoing a renewal because of the Light Rail and the customers are turned away, say merchants.

Elad Benari and Yoni Kempinski, | updated: 02:13

Jaffa Street, Jerusalem
Jaffa Street, Jerusalem
Flash 90

Israel National News TV visited last week Jerusalem’s Jaffa Street, once a thriving street with shops and many customers. Today, however, Jaffa Street is undergoing a renewal after vehicular traffic was eliminated from the street and the new Jerusalem Light Rail was installed.

The street’s merchants told INN TV’s Yoni Kempinski that the renewal of Jaffa Street has unfortunately turned away the customers, and expressed their fears that they won’t return even now that the construction is over.

“The street has become abandoned,” said Tamar, a local storeowner. “There’s no work. We’re sitting idly by and we have to make our living. I had to fire my son after he worked with me for 15 years. My son! So you can imagine how difficult the situation is.”

“In all the countries where they made a pedestrian mall with a train, the businesses closed down,” said Moshe, another business owner who is not optimistic that customers will return.

“It’s a nice street to take a walk along and maybe eat some ice cream or shawarma,” he added, “but it’s not for businesses, especially since all the businesses on Jaffa Street have become very cheap businesses.”

The merchants called on the government and the municipality to take action that would bring back the lost customers.

“They should publicize more,” said storeowner Yossi. “There should be more action taken in the city, so more people come. I call on all the people to come and shop here and not be afraid.”

“During the time of the terror attacks, even before the emergency crews got here, the people who would put out the people that were on fire after the attack were us,” said shop owner Malchan. “We rose above ourselves, we repressed what we saw and the next day we opened our businesses and came to work. It was a matter of principle that we won’t be moved from here by terror. What the terror attacks couldn’t do, the light rail apparently did much better. It’s sad.”

Photo: Jaffa Street's "new face" / Flash 90