The government’s planned route for the Eilat railway will be destructive to
nature and landscapes that have thrived since the biblical era, the Israel
Nature and Parks Authority announced on Thursday.
Ecological reports from
INPA and an economic assessment by Prof. Ezra Sadan, a former director-general
of the Finance Ministry, indicate that establishing the railway as planned would
be “a fatal blow in the Negev,” the authority said.
“The Negev is the
last refuge of many animals... and also the last haven for millions of
travelers, who wish to connect to simplicity, and to the primeval beauty of the
Negev wadis” a statement from INPA said.
If the government moves forward
with its intended plans, ramparts will reach heights of up to 50 meters –
equivalent to the height of 17-story buildings – spread over lengths of many
kilometers, the INPA explained. In addition, the project would involve the
construction of multiple bridges and the flattening of open spaces, as well the
establishment of about 14,000 electricity polls and fences surrounding the
In order to avoid such destruction, the INPA has proposed two
alternative routes with only slight differences from one and
Emphasizing environmental protection, the proposals involve
quarrying an underground tunnel that would leave the surface untouched and would
not damage the desert land.
Experts from the authority have worked
together – for months – with those from the Environment Protection Ministry, in
cooperation with local and international planning teams, to develop a more
“A railway construction project is for 100
years – it is forbidden that temporary considerations will cause us to lose and
destroy nature and landscape forever,” the INPA statement said.
response, the Israel National Roads Company said the current plans will reduce
pollution by trucks and cars, and boost local businesses.
“[It] will help
millions of citizens of Israel, especially the hundreds of thousands of
residents of the South, the Negev and the Arava,” the company
Environmental, human, economic, and engineering considerations
were taken into account during the planning processes. Additional billions of
shekels would be required to implement INPA’s suggestions, which could lead to
the cancellation of the entire project, the Committee said.