Petach Tikva’s Bat Cave

[My Purim basket Giveaway ends Monday, March 3.]

Sometimes the urban environment is an ideal place for wild animals. Here’s an example: In 2006, Petach Tikva’s two hospitals merged to form the Rabin Medical Center. Since then, several new buildings have appeared at the Beilinson campus while the Hasharon campus, several kilometers away, lies stagnating.

The health ministry originally planned to shut down Hasharon completely, but workers and residents protested and prevented the closure. Large departments in Hasharon, such as maternity, closed or moved to Beilinson but others, including orthopedics and internal medicine, exist in both places. Hasharon is viewed as a friendly, community-based hospital while Beilinson has become a large medical center with numerous specialties.

Nothing illustrates the stagnation of Hasharon more than the building pictured above. I’m not sure whether it was meant for a clinic or offices, or even parking, but shortly before the merger took place someone scrapped the project. This was bad news for the neighborhood’s elderly and sick. Yet all was not lost–this abandoned building on a huge plot of valuable, government-owned property in the middle of a residential neighborhood–turned out to be the perfect habitat for bats.

Walking by at twilight one can hear hundreds of shrieking bats and even view them flying back and forth. Some residents avoid the place, while others are fascinated. Recently my husband has seen bats swooping over the street late at night. When he called the city’s hotline, he was told that they don’t deal with bats.

Petach Tikva has invested large funds in beautifying the city. Let’s hope that it will put pressure on the health ministry to remove this eyesore. Maybe they can merge it with the local zoo.

More on animals in urban settings: The “Street Goats” of Bnei Brak.

This post originally appeared on Green Prophet and is reprinted with permission.

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  1. My questions are, don’t bats have an important role in the environment? And what harm do they actually do? I ask because I remember an article in the National Geographic magazine about a certain bat cave in the States which was due for extermination, and which was saved when it was determined that …. don’t remember which factors about the bats … were actually beneficial.

    Nice and vague, I know – but worth looking into if you’re concerned about the bats. Of course I don’t propose building, and abandoning a site for bat reproduction, either. They don’t bother me much, is all, and I see them swooping around behind my apartment every evening.

    • mominisrael says

      Thanks, Mimi, I’m sure they do. Apparently they eat mosquitoes. Like I suggested, perhaps the city could find another habitat for them.

  2. We see bats all over Petach Tikva…we like to take our guests on walks during the evening (around 10 pm is best) to seek them out. The bats especially like fig trees, but we see them swooping between all kinds of trees. We also saw a barn owl on a telephone wire recently. In any event, especially because there’s been an epidemic and many bees have died, bats remain one of the most reliable sources of plant fertilization in the area.

  3. mominisrael says

    Thanks Etana–I knew about the bee problems but had no idea that bats can replace some of their useful activities.

  4. Hasharon has not stagnated at all. They do renovations all the time, such as the Imaging Department, which has recently been remodeled. There are indeed departments that have been moved to Beilinson, but the Hasharon Hospital is alive and kicking.

    And from my experience, there are reasons to prefer it to Beilinson from the patients’ point of view at least.

  5. Bats live in a clump of trees around the corner from my apartment and in the trees all along Achuza. Crazy! I think it’s a thing in the Merkaz, I never saw them in J-m. (maybe it’s too cold there at night and they prefer the balmier climate here. Though i’m sure the last few weeks of cold and rain hasn’t made them so happy!

  6. Abba Eban says

    Hey! What did bats ever do to you?
    These are not the vampire bats here, besides, vampire bats don’t bite humans. Did you overdose on Dracula lately??
    Anyway, leave them bats alone, they don’t touch you and they will never trouble anybody. By the way, there are tons of them all over Israel. So, just relax.
    Better get yourself worried about cockroaches, yes the huge flying ones. And maybe about snakes, or scorpions.
    Or, maybe about the point that we’re living in the Middle East here, and bats flying all over town aren’t exactly our biggest problem here!