The Israeli army has a de facto exemption from paying parking tickets, and the Defense Ministry owes millions of shekels in unpaid fines, a new report published Wednesday by State Comptroller Yosef Shapira revealed.
The report said that municipal authorities in Israel were unable to collect fines incurred by vehicles owned by the IDF and the Defense Ministry, as well as rental cars driven by tourists.
In some cases, the unpaid tickets amounted to millions of shekels. In Ramat Gan alone, the Defense Ministry’s debt was said to amount to NIS 2.6 million (approximately $745,000) as of December 2012, with Rehovot coming in second with NIS 265,000 (approximately $76,000).
The debts incurred by tourists driving rental cars amounted to NIS 570,000 (approximately $160,000) in 2011 and NIS 1.3 million (approximately $372,000) in 2012. The report noted that while rental car companies were making profits off tourists, the companies weren’t held accountable for their customers’ traffic violations.
According to the report, the majority of tickets were cancelled due to the difficulty of collecting the fines.
Shapira said the situation was “unacceptable, to say the least,” adding that it went against the public interest by undermining “the equality that is at the heart of law enforcement” and called for greater efficiency in urban parking arrangements.
The report found that in major Israeli cities, such as Jerusalem, Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Haifa, Nazareth, Afula, Rehovot and Ramat Gan, there was no adequate planning for parking spaces, leading to parking spaces being marked in ways that contravened Israel’s transport laws.
Shapira said severe parking shortages had turned transportation into a major policy issue — one that necessitated forward-thinking central planning.
“Parking is a critical component of transportation administration and policymaking on this issue. Particularly in big cities, it affects land use, air pollution, congestion, safety, economic development as well as the quality of services given to residents and their quality of life.”