The Knesset plenary approved a bill that would temporarily forbid traveling in vehicles that have been caught driving on beaches, in a preliminary reading on Wednesday.

An initial law banning driving on beaches, passed in 1997, enables courts to convict those guilty of driving on beaches, as well as revoke their licenses for a period not exceeding 120 days.

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The current bill, proposed by MK Ronen Hoffman (Yesh Atid), would grant judges the authority to prohibit the operation of the vehicle that engaged in such a violation, also for a period not exceeding 120 days.

“This amendment is required in light of the data of traffic police and the National Road Safety Authority, which indicates that in many cases, despite the revocation of a driver’s license, drivers whose licenses have been revoked continue to drive, with a blatant disrespect for the law and for human life,” the bill’s explanatory note reads. “The amendment expresses the recognition of the severity and the damaging implications of the offense of driving on the beach.”

During the plenary session, Hoffman stressed that the amendment embodies values of environmental protection, while Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar said that the proposal aims to improve the tools available under the existing law.

Forty-four Knesset members supported the proposal, which will now proceed to the Internal Affairs and Environment Committee.

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority in particular has long been fighting against the phenomenon of driving on beaches. Despite the fact that the law prohibiting beach driving has been in place since 1997, the INPA received the power to enforce the legislation only in 2011. Each summer since, the INPA has continued to conduct dozens of enforcement operations, to ensure that offenders are not driving their vehicles on the nation’s beaches.

Following the preliminary passage of the latest amendment on Wednesday, INPA officials praised the Knesset members for their decision.

“One of the goals of the INPA is to allow the public to stay safe in the open areas and amazing landscapes of the country,” INPA director Shaul Goldstein said.

“The authority has undertaken the task of removing motor vehicles from seaside areas in order for travelers to be able to enjoy a quiet and safe beach,” Goldstein continued. “During enforcement, unfortunately, the authority’s inspectors have encountered verbal and physical violence. We are pleased that the bill that was approved will enable better coping with this dangerous phenomenon.”
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