The city of Modi’n has declared war on the “Alte-Zachen” trucks that ply the city, seeking used items that they can buy cheap, presumably for resale. On Monday, city traffic enforcers ticketed 22 drivers of these vehicles for their illegal use of loudspeakers and megaphones to announce their presence. In addition, 14 vehicles were cited for major problems, and their drivers were forced to take them off the road until they are repaired.
The move in Modi’in is the latest to discourage the junk dealers from operating in cities. About a year ago, the Knesset passed a law that prohibited the use of animals to pull carts for the purpose of peddling. Until not too long ago, horses and donkeys were the primary methods by which peddlers plied their routes.
Despite sounding like an “old-time” Yiddish term, the modern-day “Alte-Zachen” drivers – so-called because they announce themselves as such through their loudspeakers – are almost exclusively Arabs. Many of the items they buy from Israelis – old refrigerators, carpets, furniture and others – are resold to Arabs in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas. Some people have accused the drivers of acting as “lookouts,” taking notes of who is home and who is on vacation, the better to target the latter homes for robberies.