A Tel Aviv student thought she was safe to leave her car parked in a legal parking spot on the street Sunday.
She was wrong.
When Hila Ben-Baruch returned in the evening, her car was gone — with a newly-painted handicapped parking sign in its place.
“I have parked on that street for nearly half a year, [I live there] and know well where I can and can’t park,” she wrote in Hebrew on her Facebook page, according to the Times of Israel.
Ben-Baruch called the city to find out how her car could have been towed from a once-legal parking spot in a matter of hours with no advance warning. Instead, she was accused of knowingly parking in a handicapped spot and told she’d have to pay 1,350 shekels — about $365 — in towing and violation fees.
On Monday, she went to the building across from where she’d parked with the hope there might be security camera footage to prove her innocence. She was in luck.
“While the car was parked in a white-and-blue [legal] zone, two city hall workers arrived and began painting a handicapped space around the car!” Ben-Baruch wrote. Viewing the footage, she said she didn’t know whether to “cry or scream.”
She posted the video on Facebook and had her story quickly go viral — it was shared thousands of times and she made national news in Israel.
Tel Aviv’s mayor and deputy mayor each apologized for the incident and said it had all been a mistake: It’s apparently fine for city workers to re-designate a parking spot — even if occupied — but workers are supposed to inform the parking inspectors’ office that the vehicle had been parked legally.
The city released Ben-Baruch’s car and waived all fines against her.