That backdrop of the photo where Green Prophet’s Karin is sitting with her dog is not an archeological mound; nor is it a natural hill outside the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.
What has become one of the metropolitan area’s most noticeable landmarks, and eyesores, is none other than the former Hiriya Garbage mound, the rectum of Tel Aviv, which for half a century served as the city’s primary landfill and garbage dump, until its closure in 1998.
The area has now been under consideration to be turned into a huge national park. People are already starting to ride their bikes around the mound, and enjoy the area as though it’s a preserved nature site.
The site received its name from an Arab village that originally occupied the site, and whose inhabitants fled during the 1948 War of Independence. The area was later chosen as a waste disposal site due to its distance from the then much smaller Tel Aviv, most of whose residents didn’t own a car and wouldn’t be bothered by the site of a mound of garbage rising into the heavens not far from where there live.
It was officially opened as a waste disposal site in 1952, and grew steadily, along with the city’s increasing population.
The hill’s “summit” eventually reached a height of nearly 90 meters above sea level, garbage and all. Besides being a huge, smelly eyesore, the mound began to attract large flocks of gulls and other birds who were attracted to the “goodies” that resident Tel Avivians threw into their garbage cans and dumpsters, which eventually was taken to Hiriya!
The mound night have continued growing, and festering, had not the birds begun to present a danger to Ben Gurion Airport, located 6 kilometers due east.
Following its closure as a dump, Tel Aviv municipality leaders began thinking on what to do with this Hill of Garbage, whose decomposing garbage was beginning to create an environmental hazard of “mountainous” proportions, complete with rats and other vermin, as well as the emission of greenhouse gases from millions of tons of decaying garbage.
One idea was to siphon off the emissions for biogas, and if you visit the dump, you’ll see signs saying “Attention: Biogas Line” in Hebrew marking the pipes.
During the end of Ariel Sharon’s term as Prime Minister, he became immensely interested in turning the site into a national park, complete with trees, flowers, and even artificial lakes.
A group of prominent international landscapers were brought in to work on the plan, which was to be supervised by Sharon’s son, Omri. All this changed, however, when Sharon suffered a massive stroke and Omri was convicted of accepting bribes and other wrongdoings during his father’s last campaign to become prime minister.
Both father and son Sharon are no longer involved in the project, with Ariel still being in a deep coma and Omri being disgraced and having to serve time for his crimes. Some of the more than 565 million cubit feet of garbage has been removed and taken to other sites in Israel’s Negev region – to pollute an area even further “out of site and mind” than the Hiriya site originally was.
As for “Mount Hiriya”, plans are still being made to turn the area in a national park, and a recycling center with the help of artists like Brigitte Cartier, to be named Ariel Sharon National Park, and to preserve the mound as a national icon.
I bet the birds would have preferred it to remain in its original, “natural” state.