Eco-group pretests building along coast

Hundreds turn up for free festival in opposition to beach-side construction near Rishon Lezion

coastal clean88298a (photo credit: )
coastal clean88298a
(photo credit: )
Hundreds turned up at Palmahim Beach near Rishon Lezion Sunday evening to see their favorite Israeli artists and voice their opposition to plans to build a resort on the shore. The free festival kicked off a national awareness campaign to protest overdevelopment of the country's shoreline that is being coordinated by a number of eco-organizations under the umbrella group Sea4Ever. Of Israel's 105 kilometers of Mediterranean coastline, only 53 are accessible to the general public; the other half is utilized by the military and other enterprises, including the country's ports. However, of the remaining coast, only a third is set aside as "designated bathing beaches." The growing trend of beach privatization and the continuing development along the shore has limited the number of recreational areas permitted for safe communal use. Residents of Kibbutz Palmahim claim that the first they knew of Kfar Nofesh Palmahim, as the resort is to be known, was when they first saw parts of their local beach being fenced off about a year and a half ago. "It was so sudden… [Local] residents didn't know anything about the construction work until they put the fences up," said Adi Lustig, one of the festival's organizers. Moreover, the ongoing construction along Israel's coastline is harmful to the ecological structure of the area. Shahar Brinenberg, a representative of Zalul, which is part of the Sea4Ever campaign, explained that sea turtles are finding it increasingly difficult to leave their eggs in a safe place on the shore and that their survival is being threatened by irresponsible building. The Sea4Ever campaign aims to promote public awareness of the privatization of Israel's coastline, and to demand transparency regarding construction plans along the country's beaches. The cause is gaining strength: noted musicians Bari Sacharov, Hadag Nachash and Mosh Ben-Ari headlined the Sea4Ever concert. MK Orit Zuaretz (Kadima) as well as the mayors of Rishon Lezion, Ness Ziona and Rehovot, attended in support of the campaign.