State: Only 1m. tons of Samar sand can be mined

A petition was filed a few weeks ago in the Beersheba District Court by Tel Aviv University’s Environmental Justice Clinic.

January 9, 2012 05:02
1 minute read.
Samar sand dunes protest

Samar sand dunes protest_311. (photo credit: Dov Greenblatt, Society for the Protection of Natu)

No more than a million tons of sand in the Samar sand dune can be mined, the state instructed the Beersheba District Court, Adam Teva V’Din (Israel Union for Environmental Defense) announced on Sunday.

A petition was filed a few weeks ago in the Beersheba District Court by Tel Aviv University’s Environmental Justice Clinic, representing Arava residents, in conjunction with environmental advocacy group Adam Teva V’Din.

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The petition claimed the Israel Lands Authority had enabled extensive mining of about 2 million tons, in contrast to an already approved plan that stipulated only half that amount was necessary. In response, the court ruled in favor of the petitioners.

“The struggle for the Samar sands achieved an unprecedented legal and environmental victory, in which the state obligates itself to leave behind most of the Samar sands, protected from the mining,” said Adam Teva V’Din executive director Amit Bracha.

For months, protesters have attempted to stop the mining of the sands, which are slated for construction use in the nearby city of Eilat. The sands, environmental activists have argued, contain a unique island of flora and fauna that are closer in genetic makeup to plants and animals of the Sahara Desert than to those nearby in Israel. Objections have been so fervent that when mining began last week, several Society for the Protection of Nature (SPNI) protesters were detained and arrested for physically blocking the tractors from operating.

The Beersheba court’s decision, according to both Adam Teva V’Din and the Environmental Justice Clinic, will help protect further loss of the sands.

“The uncompromising struggle and the steadfastness of the residents and activists that fought against the mining is bearing fruit,” said Nirit Lotan, an attorney for the Environmental Justice Clinic.

“We will request that the court order the preparation of a mining plan that will ensure the protection of the sands, as is required in the explicit terms of the contract that was signed between the ILA and the contractor.”

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