Protesters demonstrate in J’lem to fight Acre gas plant

Masked men fight against the creation of a natural gas plant on the shores of Acre bay, chant “people come before profit,” spray fragrant floral aerosols.

Enviromental demonstrators  (photo credit: Sharon Udasin)
Enviromental demonstrators
(photo credit: Sharon Udasin)
Masked men traipsed the sidewalk outside Jerusalem’s International Convention Center (JICC), spraying fragrant floral aerosols and chanting “people come before profit” Monday afternoon.
About three dozen members of the Central Committee against Gas Factories in Acre Bay had traveled from the North to fight the creation of a natural gas plant on the shores of their city, the second group to stage a protest outside JICC that day, as the Society for the Protection of Nature’s (SPNI) Jerusalem Environment and Nature Conference went on inside.
An entirely separate group of protesters, who stood in front of the building that morning, rallied against the creation of the future Road 16 they expect will soon receive full government approval.
“Gas is good but not on the shore of Acre,” an afternoon protester shouted on a megaphone. “Here we grew up, here we were born.”
The citizens of the Acre area are not asking the government to nix the idea of putting a natural gas facility in their region completely. Rather, they simply want the plant to be built offshore, out of citizens’ physical harm, Moshe Chertoff, a member of the Central Committee, explained to The Jerusalem Post.
“Our purpose here is to express to the Editors Committee [of the National Master Plan] and the national infrastructure minister to express our support for a factory for processing the gas but only offshore,” said Chertoff, who lives in Kibbutz Shomrat. “We oppose any onshore solution – this is not a ‘Not In My Backyard’ argument. We’re not saying put it somewhere else on land. It must be offshore.”
Offshore, Chertoff argued, the plant would not endanger the lives of the 60,000 people living nearby, should a missile attack, an earthquake, a lightning storm or other accident occur.
“We’re talking about something that is 1,700 meters form a UNESCO world preservation city,” he said. “It’s one kilometer from three grade schools, it’s 800 m. from two kibbutzim, it’s 700 m. from a brand new stadium.”
During the morning demonstration, Green Movement and other environmental activists opposed the future establishment of Road 16 in Jerusalem, which was already authorized by the Interior Ministry's Committee of National Planning and Construction of National Infrastructure in July but has not yet received full cabinet approval.
The potential Road 16 would cut through the Jerusalem Forest to connect Road 1 to Menachem Begin Highway, in which two pairs of tunnels – 1,500 m. and 1,350 m. – would be carved under the Har Nof and Yefe Nof neighborhoods, joining together above ground in the Jerusalem Forest near the Revida Stream.
The ministry has contended that the new highway would ease the burden of traffic at the entrance to Jerusalem.
“The path of the road is expected to bring about the destruction of hundreds of dunams from the last green lung that remains in the Jerusalem area,” said chairman of the forum of organizations for the Jerusalem Forest, Paul Lenga, in a statement.