Ron Huldai
Ron HuldaiMiriam Alster/Flash 90

Tel Aviv-Jaffa Mayor Ron Huldai responded on Sunday to the criticism over the state of the infrastructure in the Hatikva neighborhood in the city that caused the flooding and led to the deaths of Dean Shoshani and Stav Harari when an elevator flooded on Saturday.

In an interview on Channel 12 News, Huldai rejected claims that the drainage system in the city has been lagging behind for decades. "Wrong, that’s the populism that every interviewer starts with. The Tel Aviv-Jaffa drainage system is a good drainage system, the drainage system in the south of the city is no less good than that in the north of the city.”

“Something happened in Israel - for two hours, 20% of the annual volume of rain fell in a short time, it overloaded the system and created floods that lasted two or more hours. Then the water went down and the city went back to normal,” he added.

Huldai continued, "The number of calls and flooding in the center of the city was larger than in the south of the city. The rainfall in the south of the city was 80 mm, while 40 mm fell in the north at the same time."

The mayor made clear that he has invested 1.2 billion shekels in infrastructure in the southern part of the city over the past decade. "Even when there were no other means, I invested in the drainage efforts in the Hatikva neighborhood and in Jaffa."

"What happened here was a one-off event that sometimes happens - like in the bathtub, when you take the cork out it takes time for the water to go down. The amount of water was greater than the drainage ability," said Huldai, adding, "In the south of the city there are several neighborhoods that suffer from other things, such as the Hatikva and Neve Shaanan neighborhoods. I know the suffering of the residents there.”

“This was a difficult incident and I send condolences to the families - a terrible disaster happened here but it has not yet been investigated and we cannot jump to conclusions by making populist statements on television. The city resumed normal operation two hours after the flooding, something like that happens everywhere in the world,” he insisted.