Work has got underway in the last few weeks to build a 350-apartment holiday resort on a virtually untouched part of Palmachim Beach, which lies midway between the cities of Tel Aviv and Ashdod.
It may have rained most of this past week – not to mention the snowfall a fortnight previously – but my luck was in as the sun came out when I paid a visit recently to the beach and nearby kibbutz researching a report about the development.
It may only be a tiny place – sandwiched between the private land of Kibbutz Palmachim and the larger commercial Palmachim Beach – but the secluded bay, dubbed the ‘fishermen’s beach’ by locals, is one of the last ‘wild’ spaces on Israel’s small, but built-up, Mediterranean coastline. So no surprise that the prospect of hundreds of extra people (plus the associated noise, litter and pollution) have caused a stir among local residents and beach-users, some of whom have even set up camp on the beach itself. Sure, any development of this kind has pros and cons – potentially among the former are jobs and PR for the area, which is home to many archaeological discoveries including the ancient city of Tel Yavne-Yam.
But the question here is one of balance: between financial benefits and the less quantifiable value of nature and open space.
A ‘Save Palmachim’ group set up on Facebook two weeks ago has already accumulated in excess of 3,000 members at the time of typing.
Whether green campaigners can take on the developers, who bought the land from the Local Municipality, and stop the building remains to be seen… Watch this space as the story unfolds.
Photo: Michael Green.