(photo credit: )
Notwithstanding a decision late last month about how to divide the land around
the Haifa Port between the Israel Ports Company (IPC) and the Kishon River
Authority, the two were once again trading accusations over land ownership on
This time, a row of several dozen trees along the riverbank
and their accompanying drip irrigation system were at the center of the debate.
Around Tu Bishvat this year, the Kishon River Authority and its volunteers
planted a row of young trees along the riverbank and installed some rubber hoses
to water them. On Tuesday, IPC employees dug up the hoses to remove them. A
Kishon River Authority ranger spotted them and demanded that they return the
hoses to their original positions. The employees refused.
month, a committee of ministry directors-general decided to recommend creating a
nearly 600-dunam (60- hectare) park along the river’s banks. The IPC would
receive alternate land somewhere else to enable future expansion of the port.
The two government entities had clashed repeatedly in the run-up to the
committee’s recommendation, which was considered at least a partial
environmental victory. Environmentalists want a park twice as big along the
Late Tuesday, Kishon River Authority legal adviser A. Banner wrote
a letter to the IPC administration demanding that it rehabilitate the site to
its former state and compensate the authority for damages. Banner threatened
further legal action if the IPC did not comply.
Banner also accused the
IPC of illegally claiming land that had been allocated under national master
plan 22 as forest land.
“The Kishon River Authority brings a grievous
complaint regarding the illegal behavior of IPC, namely causing damage to the
authority’s property and unacceptable damage to the rehabilitation of the river
and its environs. The Kishon River Authority told the IPC employees that if the
area were not returned to its former state immediately, the authority would make
formal complaint to the police to investigate the matter and bring those
responsible to justice,” Banner added in the letter.
The IPC, on
Wednesday, gave no sign of backing down. In a harshly worded response, it
accused the authority of illegally planting trees without permission on port
“Despite the repeated claims of the Kishon River Authority, which
are totally baseless, the rights to the land were awarded to IPC by law. This
was made clear to the authority by all of the relevant bodies which have
authority on this issue. The attempt by the authority to represent the matter
differently, reflects behavior inappropriate to a public authority and does not
correspond to the legal reality and the facts on the ground,” the response
The IPC said it had asked the authority not to plant trees in that
area, as it belonged to the company.
“If it was really important to the
River Authority to plant trees on the banks of the river, it should have found a
legal way to do so and to resolve this issue,” the company retorted.
IPC said it would water the trees itself for the next month to give the
authority time to find a legal solution. It also mentioned that “the trees there
are in bad shape, apparently as a result of ongoing neglect.”
River is in the midst of a multi-year rehabilitation project. The area has been
a dumping ground for local factories for many years, but wildlife is gradually
returning as a result of the rehabilitation efforts.
The Kishon runs
close to the current port before letting out into the bay. The IPC’s job is to
ensure that the ever-increasing import and export industry has enough room at
the ports along the Mediterranean Sea to meet demand. To that end, the IPC is
intent on securing land for expansion adjacent to the water.