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Israel's postal service is removing half the country's mailboxes

What to do with a struggling mail service? Post is one of those things we rely on completely. We assume it will arrive every day. We assume it will, well, deliver. 

But as the turbulance faced by Israel Postal Company over the past couple of years shows, a reliable, publicly run postal service is no longer something you can guarantee. Back in April 2014, facing huge debts, financial meltdown and a series of strikes, the company began thinking of ways to restructure, through a series of cost-cutting measures: two delivery days per week instead of five, more expensive stamps, and fewer post offices were all suggested as possibilities.

Now, the plan for restructuring has been finalised, and is about to be put into practice. The headline change is a 51 per cent reduction in postboxes across the country, from a high of 3,000 a few years ago to a projected 1,550 mailboxes once the restructuring is complete (some were already sealed up earlier this year; the company cited a decrease in demand). Around 200 post offices will also close under the plan. 

Israel is quite a small country, and the postal service claims that all households will still be within a mile of a postbox, which fulfils the terms of its new license from the government. But in the city of Rahat, for example, the move will leave residents with one mailbox per 58,000 people, while in Modi’in Illit, one mailbox will serve 30,000. The residents of Rosh-Pina, meanwhile, will luxuriate in a mailbox for every 315 people. 

One person who might be affected by the company’s reduced services is God herself: every year, the postal company receives thousands of letters addressed to the deity. Once a year, these are delivered to the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, and stuck in cracks in the masonry.

It remains to be seen whether this delivery, too, will suffer from reduced frequency in coming years. 


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