shelter (archive)
shelter (archive)David Cohen/Flash90

Tel Aviv Deputy Mayor Chaim Goren spoke to Arutz Sheva - Israel National News about a disturbing phenomenon in which illegal infiltrators vandalize bomb shelters meant to protect civilians during terrorist rocket attacks and sometimes even render the shelter unusable.

"Since the beginning of the war, we have been dealing with vandalism and destruction in the shelters, which we have to leave open for any trouble that may come," Goren said. He noted that the problem is most acute in southern Tel Aviv, which has a large population of illegal infiltrators.

Of the deliberate damage caused to the vital bomb shelters, he said, "I define this as terrorism because it is a violation of an aspect of our security during wartime."

According to the Deputy Mayor, the nature of the incidents and the potential to cause destruction during wartime requires the intervention of the Shin Bet (ISA) in the investigation. According to him "the police cannot do much more than catch them and take them to trial", but in practice, even after the judicial process, they do not remain in prison for a period of time long enough to act as a real deterrent against such vandalism.

As evidence, he noted that when two groups of infiltrators from Eritrea brawled with each other one Saturday, the majority of the combatants were quickly released despite their involvement in such a large-scale violent incident.

In one case in the Shapira neighborhood, the damage to the public shelter was so extensive that the shelter had to be closed for two weeks for repairs, so that if Tel Aviv were subject to a rocket attack during that period, the shelter would be unavailable for the protection of the residents. In such cases, the acts of vandalism directly endanger human life.

"These are cases that repeat themselves," he says and noted that there is an antisemitic aspect to many of the incidents: "There was a case where they took a Hebrew Bible and tore up and scattered the pages in the shelter. This is an event that I define as antisemitic that requires an investigation by the various security forces."

Goren mentioned that "after the violence between the Eritreans among themselves on that famous Shabbat, the police brought in a special task force that works together with our forces, but a further step is needed. The state needs to remove those who harm our security. These are people who are here in violation of the law and also harm the security of the residents of the state. There is no possibility of leaving them here."

He emphasized that "most of the MKs I spoke to, not only from the coalition, understand the issue and are supportive. Leftists also understand that personal security is a necessity and that status cannot be allowed for those who threaten the security of the citizens." To the question as to what cachauses these incidents to not receive attention in the legislative corridors, he hypothesized that it the cause is a fear of harm to the foreign relations of the State of Israel or some other reason at the national political level that causes this, and that must also be overcome and given a proper response given how dangerous the forced closure of bomb shelters can be.