Grapevine: Of wild boars and airports

Haifa is in serious danger of being overrun by wild boars while neither the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality nor the IAF is in a hurry to dismantle the airport at Sde Dov.

airport at sde dov_311 (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
airport at sde dov_311
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
HAIFA IS in serious danger of being overrun by wild boars. When Eran Singer, the Arab affairs reporter for Israel Radio, is not busy catching up with and reporting on events in the Arab world, he’s cleaning up the mess in his neighborhood left from the previous night’s foraging by wild boars. In a departure from his usual subject matter, Singer this week described to radio listeners what it is like to wake up in the morning and see the street littered with garbage cans and their non-edible contents. Sometimes he cleans the mess himself, and at other times he calls the relevant office at the municipality, and professional street sweepers come and take everything away.
The situation has become so intrusive, he said, that the city council is giving serious thought to bringing in professional hunters to track down the wild boars and either eliminate them or take them into captivity.
Not only Haifa is suffering, but so are several of the Arab villages in the North.
According to Singer, who appears to have made a study of the subject, wild boars, though very large and ugly, are not likely to attack a human being, with the exception of a female wild boar who thinks that her cubs may be in danger. The wild boars, said Singer, are highly intelligent and have a very well-developed sense of smell, which enables them to instantly target garbage cans that have food in them.
BEERSHEBA MAYOR Rubik Danilovich has not given up on the idea of establishing an international airport at Nevatim, with the initial aim of reducing traveling time between southern towns and cities and the center of the country.
Danilovich and other southern mayors, along with their colleagues from other parts of the country, last year held a demonstration in Tel Aviv to advance the idea of an international airport in the Negev. They had the full backing of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee Silvan Shalom, who grew up in Beersheba and has an intimate understanding of the needs of the Negev.
While tremendous changes have taken place in all southern municipalities, with signs of progress everywhere, the communities of the South are still referred to as “peripheral,” a word that Danilovich and other southern mayors want to eliminate. Improved highway and railway connections are already serving towards this aim, but an international airport would give the Negev a significant economic boost in that it would create hundreds of jobs during and after construction and would increase tourism to the Negev. It would also spur more families to decide to live in the south of the country.
Danilovich seems to have found another sympathetic ear in the government.
Last week when he tried to impress Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon with the idea, Ya’alon said that he would give it his consideration.
MEANWHILE NEITHER the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality nor the IAF is in a hurry to dismantle the airport at Sde Dov, notwithstanding a government decision to do so. The people at city hall are happy to host the existing domestic airport and the services it provides. Despite the noise, the neighborhood committee representing people in the North Tel Aviv Lamed area is also keen to retain the airport rather than have a new neighborhood constructed on the relatively large expanse of land occupied by the airport.
Once vacated, the land would have prime real-estate value, but with residential, office and commercial real-estate projects rising ever higher, the construction of a new neighborhood would probably dwarf existing buildings, result in more traffic congestion, more pollution, less open space for leisure time activities and a host of other problems that go hand in glove with demographic densification.
Sde Dov is the departure point for destinations as far north as Rosh Pina and as far south as Eilat for commercial flights, as well those by owners of private planes. The government has decreed that commercial operations at Sde Dov will cease in June 2016 and that military operations there will not continue beyond 2018.
Maor Binyamini, a lawyer and senior aide to Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, has written to the various airline companies such as Arkia and Israir stating that the municipality is opposed to the government decision and strongly believes that domestic airline services should continue to operate from Tel Aviv and not be transferred to Ben-Gurion International Airport. BGIA is already under considerable strain with increases in scheduled flights and more such flights in the offing since the introduction of the Open Skies policy.
Arkia CEO Gad Tepper has proposed the construction of a new runway on land adjacent to the existing Sde Dov Airport but closer to the sea, where residential construction is not permitted. Of course, between now and 2016 and definitely between now and 2018, major changes could take place in the government and in local authorities, and many decisions made today could be reversed in the future or simply put on hold indefinitely. That’s something that Israel is very good at, regardless of political affiliations and ideologies.