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Disabled man, 70, jailed over $65 parking ticket

Peretz Hazan says he anticipated the judge would take pity on him when he chose prison rather than pay NIS 250 fine

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Israeli pensioner Hazan Peretz, who was jailed over unpaid parking fines, talks to Channel 2 television in an interview aired on April 4, 2016 (screen capture: Channel 2)
Israeli pensioner Hazan Peretz, who was jailed over unpaid parking fines, talks to Channel 2 television in an interview aired on April 4, 2016 (screen capture: Channel 2)

A 70-year-old disabled Israeli was jailed for three days last week for not paying a NIS 250 ($65) parking ticket after he took the case to court in the hope of winning empathy from the judge, Channel 2 reported on Thursday.

Netanya resident Peretz Hazan is recognized as 100 percent disabled, finds it difficult to walk for more than a few minutes at a time, and uses a stick to help him stay on his feet.

Weekly trips to a local clinic for check-ups and treatments have been confounded by what Hazan claims is a chronic shortage of available parking spots, forcing him to park illegally.

Each visit to the clinic brought with it an inevitable parking ticket when Hazan returned to his car.

“I didn’t believe that they would send someone in my condition to jail, especially for a parking ticket,” he told the TV channel. “Instead of budgeting resources to correct the situation, they take disabled people and put them in prison.”

Hazan blamed the shortage of disabled parking spots for causing him to end up behind bars, where he fainted while waiting to see a doctor.

“There is no parking right in front of the clinic. I try to park the car so that it won’t disturb the traffic — and I come back and get a ticket,” he said.

Israeli pensioner Hazan Peretz, who was jailed over unpaid parking fines, is seen walking to his car during an interview aired on April 4, 2016 (screen capture: Channel 2)
Israeli pensioner Hazan Peretz, who was jailed over unpaid parking fines, is seen walking to his car during an interview aired on April 4, 2016 (screen capture: Ch. 2)

Although the clinic does have a disabled parking spot, it is intended for vehicles equipped with an elevator ramp, which is not fitted on Hazan’s car. He also tried parking there once — and received a ticket as well.

Instead, Hazan, who lives on a disability benefits, chose to leave his car in “red and white” zones, where parking is strictly prohibited.

“I have a disabled sticker in the car. I don’t know if the disabled sticker helps at all,” he said. “”I am sure I don’t disrupt the traffic but I get a ticket.”

Two months ago, Hazan had had enough. He refused to pay a ticket and asked for a trial in the hope of resolving the issue.

But the judge ruled he must pay the NIS 250 fine or face three days in jail.

He took a chance on telling the judge that he preferred jail to paying the fine, in the hopes that he would be offered an alternative payment arrangement.

“Perhaps, I thought, he would at least split it up to NIS 20 a month, or NIS 30 a month. To my regret, I don’t have the means to pay an amount like [the full fine].”

Then last week a policeman turned up at his home to arrest him.

“My grandson was with me, he started to scream and cry,” Hazan recalled. In desperation he offered to pay off the fine, but the police told him they only had an arrest order.

He was taken first to Ma’asiyahu Prison near Tel Aviv, and was then transferred to Hadarim detention center, where other inmates couldn’t believe that he was jailed for a NIS 250 parking fine.

The strain eventually became too much for him and he collapsed. At that point he was taken to hospital.

“They shunted me around all day without food, at nine I was waiting for the doctor — I got up, I fainted, and I had a hypo [a hypoglycemia attack caused by low blood sugar],” he told Channel 2.

Hazan still has three outstanding tickets, but, undaunted, he has chosen to go to trial for those too.

Netanya municipality said in response that there is disabled parking available, and that it was Hazan who made the decision to go to jail.

“It is not the only parking place in the area designated for the disabled,” the statement from the city hall said. “There are other parking spots there, and a parking bay that has access for the vehicles of six disabled people. Mr Peretz [Hazan] parked in an illegal manner, was convicted for that in court and was ordered to pay only the initial value of the ticket NIS 250. He chose of his own accord to convert the fine into jail time.”

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