Police officers were filmed Monday giving the second of two NIS 475 ($140) fines in the span of less than a week to the owner of Tel Aviv’s Schnitzel Point eatery over folded tables that were outside of the restaurant without a permit.
The shop’s owner, Avi Haimov, said he hadn’t received his bill for payment for the permit for June. The Tel Aviv municipality previously announced it was freezing April and May’s charges for such permits in light of the economic hardships caused by the coronavirus.
After he received the first fine due to the placement of the tables, he reached out to the municipality and was told that the issue was being taken care of and assured the fine wouldn’t be repeated.
However, on Monday, inspectors came to the restaurant and fined him again.
“Shame on you!” Haimov can be heard yelling in the video as he falls to the floor. “Please just leave me alone! You have crushed me. For years we have been persecuted.”
He then addresses Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai: “Shame on you, you are sending inspectors to bring me down… Business owners give this city culture, entertainment. There’s no work and I’m even fined! I have three kids to feed, where will I get the money from?”
He pleads: “Do you want me to get down on my knees? Here, I’m down on my knees. Oy, I’m begging you, begging you…”
זה אבי חיימוב משניצל פוינט קיבל השבוע 2 קנסות מהעיריה בסך 1000₪ על היתר שולחנות שמקופלים ולא בשימוש. לדבריו:@iTelAvivYafo הקפיאה את ההיתר באפריל–מאי וביוני לא שלחה שובר תשלום. הציג לפקח שהסוגיה בטיפול, אך הפקח לא ויתר: נפלתי בין הכסאות, אני עסוק בלא להתאבד אז הפקח מציע לי חבל? pic.twitter.com/9Us0S0UtOz
— Dana Yarkechy (@DanaYarkechy) July 13, 2020
“While businesses in Tel Aviv are collapsing, fighting for bread to feed their families, our mayor, Ron Huldai, boasts that he supports us, while his inspectors abuse us again and again,” he later told the Walla news site.
“I’m busy trying not to commit suicide and the inspector comes and hands me a hangman’s noose?” he added.
The Tel Aviv Municipality commented that its enforcement was being done “with thoughtfulness and consideration” and that Haimov had been asked several times to get his permit sorted out “but unfortunately he didn’t.”
The municipality was weighing canceling the second fine, according to the statement.
“They sent three patrol cars, as though I was Pablo Escobar,” Haimov told Channel 12 news.
Haimov recently clashed with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s economic adviser Prof Avi Simhon on Channel 12, with Simhon deriding the notion that he didn’t have bread to eat.
On Thursday, during a press conference held by Netanyahu, a journalist played a recording of Haimov complaining about the financial hardship and urging the government to “open state funds and pour them on the public.”
Netanyahu, who was unveiling an aid package that critics have called insufficient, responded by telling Haimov to call him personally to find a solution.
On Saturday evening, thousands of people blocked roads and clashed with police in Tel Aviv at the end of a mass protest that saw some 10,000 demonstrate against the government’s economic policies during the coronavirus crisis.
Participants included self-employed Israelis and owners of small businesses, some of which have been forced to remain closed as much of the economy has reopened, as well as wage workers who have lost their jobs or been furloughed due to the economic crisis.
With unemployment in the country at some 21 percent, or 850,000 people, many people say they are fearful for their future, with numerous businesses facing collapse.
ממשיכים בלב תל אביב כשהכיוון אינו ידוע. מפגינים יקרים הכל טוב ויפה אבל אתם מתקרבים לבית שלי ושם ישן ילד קטן העונה לשם דורי, אם הוא יתעורר זה יהפוך להיות אישי pic.twitter.com/YrdHVBSBTX
— Bar Peleg (@bar_peleg) July 11, 2020
Meanwhile, jobless Israelis say government promises of financial support in recent months through grants, unemployment stipends and various other aid mechanisms have in some cases failed to come through and in others proven woefully inadequate in addressing their plight.
Israel imposed a broad lockdown starting in mid-March, allowing only staff deemed essential to go to work and banning public assembly. With virus numbers dropping in May and facing public and economic pressure, the government eased restrictions, but reimposed some of them in recent weeks as infection rates climbed to new highs of over 1,000 a day. Israel’s virus death toll was 364 as of Monday.
As Israel contends with the alarming surge in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, Netanyahu has faced a tide of criticism over the government’s handling of the economic fallout of the pandemic, with polls indicating growing disapproval of his stewardship of the economy.
There has been widespread anger from various sectors of the economy whose members say the government is not doing enough to help them weather the crisis, accompanied by outrage over the alleged misdirection of financial aid and the bureaucratic complexities of obtaining assistance.