Cabinet approves cliff protection initiative

Israeli cliffs lose 40-50 centimeters a year due to erosion, with some in danger of complete collapse.

August 1, 2012 03:46
2 minute read.
A cliff north of Herzliya

A cliff north of Herzliya 370. (photo credit: Sharon Udasin)


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The Socioeconomic Cabinet approved a plan on Tuesday to establish a governmental company for coastal cliff protection, the Environmental Protection Ministry reported.

The new company will design, launch and maintain defense structures to prevent the collapse of coastal cliffs, adhering to a NIS 500 million to be allocated in the coming years. Each year, Israel’s Mediterranean coastal cliffs are losing about 40 to 50 centimeters to erosion, and their potential collapse could endanger human lives as well as cost billions of shekels in damages, the ministry said.

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“In order to speed up the prevention of cliff collapse, it is necessary to concentrate all efforts and operate from a national perspective,” said Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan. “The new company will bring an end to beach destruction and its activities will protect the lives of swimmers.”

The government corporation, officially to be called The Government Company for the Protection of Mediterranean Coastal Cliffs, Ltd., will plan and implement defense mechanisms for the cliffs, such as placing breakwaters along the shores. Breakwaters, according to the ministry, reduce the impact of water against the cliffs and thereby decrease the likelihood of collapse. In addition, the company will also monitor the activities of local authorities, which are responsible for establishing on-land protective measures for the cliffs.

In recent years, the rate of cliff collapse has gradually accelerated, mainly due to the construction of marinas and other structures along the beaches. The destruction potentially caused as a result of the erosion could not only be extremely costly, but could also harm heritage sites and tourism infrastructure, the ministry said.

Due to the national nature of the project and the need to expedite its implementation, establishing a government company was crucial, the ministry stressed.

Before the cabinet’s decision on Tuesday, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel CEO Moshe Pakman and Life and Environment CEO Naor Yerushalmi had written a letter to the ministers sitting on the cabinet calling for their support of the company.

“Coastal cliff collapse is an ever-increasing problem over the the years,” they wrote.

Creating a government company for such a unique issue is important, as is including six public representatives among the company directors – with one a representative of the environmental organizations, they said.

“Handling the project on coastal cliff protection is an issue of high environmental sensitivity, and therefore, it is very important that a representative of environmental organizations will be a public representative on the board,” the CEOs added.

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