Construction Firm in Bnei Brak in Hot Water Over Shabbos Subway Work

A bulldozer demolishing a home in the southern Tel Aviv neighborhood of Kfar Shalem in July, as part of preparations for the Tel Aviv Light Rail. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Mei Barak, the company that supplies water to Bnei Brak, will appear in court Friday in response to a petition by the NTA Metropolitan Mass Transit System, the firm building the Tel Aviv light rail system – after the water company said that it would cut off water to the rail’s construction site on Shabbos. NTA responded angrily, saying that “the Bnei Brak municipality is waging an unrestrained religious war that will endanger the lives of residents and ignores decisions by the courts.”

The water company informed NTA on Thursday of its intention, after a major protest in the city last week against construction of the rail line on Shabbosos.

The main construction taking place in Bnei Brak at this point is the boring of a subway tunnel under Jabotinsky Street, a main thoroughfare that connects Petach Tikvah, Bnei Brak, Ramat Gan and Tel Aviv. The municipality has several times asked that work not take place on Shabbos, but NTA claims that the work of boring the tunnel must continue around the clock, lest part of the uncompleted tunnel collapse, endangering the lives of the people above.

NTA on Thursday demanded that the court issue an injunction against closure of the water system, saying that Mei Barak was “using their authority in an illegal manner, by taking actions to force us to halt work on Shabbos.” In its petition to the court, NTA again reiterated that the issue was “the danger to life” that halting the work would entail.

NTA also listed several other complaints against the Bnei Brak municipality in its petition, including, it said, a refusal by the city to hook up NTA equipment to the local sewage system, and the dousing of street lights at random times on Jabotinsky Street.

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