On June 24, 2020, the State Comptroller and Ombudsman, Matanyahu Englman, together with the Head of the Office of the Ombudsman, Dr. Esther Ben-Haim, visited the branch office of the Ombudsman's Office located in the city of Nazereth. The branch office has been active in Nazereth since 2006, in order to enhance the accessibility of the Office and its services to the local population.
State Comptroller Englman met with the employees of the branch office who assist the public to realize their rights and who investigate their complaints on public bodies. The employees offer services to the public in Arabic, Hebrew and Russian, and regularly engages in outreach to provide information about the Office of the Ombudsman and its activities. In this way, the branch office workers carry out the vision of the State Comptroller to make the Ombudsman's Office accessible to the residents in the social and geographical periphery.
During the course of the day, the State Comptroller and Ombudsman met with a resident whose complaint about the need for a security barrier on a sidewalk was handled by the Office of the Ombudsman. The State Comptroller made an on-site inspection of the place, where a barrier was erected to prevent cars from parking on the sidewalk and to enable the local residents to negotiate the sidewalk in safety.
In addition, the State Comptroller and his staff went to city hall to meet with the Mayor of Nazereth, Mr. Ali Salam, and representatives of the municipality. The activities, challenges and long-term plans of the city of Nazereth, the largest Arab city in the north of Israel, were presented to the State Comptroller, the Mayor and the senior staff. Moreover, the challenges of the city during the coronavirus period were presented, with an emphasis on the crisis resulting from the lack of tourism during this period and the closing of hotels and businesses in the industry. There were also reports about the activities of the various municipal departments and their services to the elderly, and about the services of the social welfare department in cases of poverty, addiction and violence in the family during the coronavirus period and in regular times. The city engineer presented the projects in development in city, including infrastructure projects in the framework of Decision 922 of the Israeli government to invest in Arab towns.
The State Comptroller and Ombudsman noted during the visit the great value of meeting face to face with residents and with mayor, and the importance of the activities of local municipalities considering the central role they play in the lives of residents. The State Comptroller noted especially the need to focus on populations worthy of promotion and to tailor the aid to the needs on the ground. He stressed the importance and emphasis he places on audit in matters specific to the periphery and the Arab society. The State Comptroller said about the activities of the Office of the Ombdusman: "The Ombudsman's Office is a major tool for local governments in reflecting the problems dealt with by local residents. There is great value in making the Ombudsman's Office accessible through all of its branch offices which receive the public and the Nazereth branch office in particular, to all sectors of society." In addition, the State Comptroller updated those present that the upcoming State Comptroller Report about local government will include a report in Arabic about road safety in the Arab sector, and that the office is working on a follow-up Report about enforcement in the matter of violence within the Arab society and illegal weapons.
Ali Salam, the Mayor of Nazereth: "I grant my blessing to the important visit of the State Comptroller and his senior staff. The visit is of utmost importance and demonstrates the attitude of the State Comptroller to the City of Nazereth which stands for peace and coexistence and full belief in equal opportunity. I am in favor of all meetings which promote the individual citizen and the residents of the city as a whole. Transparency, openness and working according to the law and the procedures with emphasis on equal opportunities will help the residents who are an integral part of the residents of the State of Israel. Hand in hand we will build a generation seeking peace."