Beit Yanai beach (Daniel Bar-On)
A sign warning of possible landslides at Beit Yanai beach. Photo by Daniel Bar-On
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Local beach-lovers in the northern Sharon region last week found pedestrian access to the popular Beit Yanai beach blocked by a huge wall of boulders and earth.

To reach the beach, they had to climb down the wall.

The rampart was put up at the beach, about five kilometers north of Netanya, by emergency order of the Emek Hefer Regional Council and funded by residents of the small community of Beit Yanai to shore up the cliff on which their homes stand.

Construction was carried out without the knowledge of the Environmental Protection Ministry, which says that planning for such a wall should have been organized, and access to the beach should not be impaired to protect the private property of a small group of people.

"Following the dramatic storm a month ago, the likes of which had not been seen since 1968, and severe damage to the cliff, the engineer of the [Beit Yanai] local committee issued an order to prevent a disaster, which would mean partial protecting of the cliff to reduce erosion," the Emek Hefer Regional Council said in a statement.

The regional council said the work was done due to danger to the homes on the cliff, and "particularly to people walking on the beach under the cliff." The statement also noted a recent collapse of part of the cliff.

Parts of the cliff, where owners of adjacent homes did not contribute to the project, have not been shored up.

"Some residents are not in the country; some preferred another contractor," Professor Moshe Rubin, chairman of the Beit Yanai local committee, said yesterday.

Rubin also said there had been a government decision to move ahead on fortifying the cliff, but it is being carried out slowly. "It's impossible just to sit and do nothing, so that's why the head of the regional council had to act. We had limited time and therefore we have not yet arranged safe access for pedestrians. But we certainly do want to do this. I think that all in all, everything was organized well by people in the community," he said. Some Beit Yanai residents said, however, that they felt the beachscape had been damaged, and some are angry about the lack of pedestrian access.

The Emek Hefer Regional Council said it "hoped that by the time the committee the prime minister appointed to deal with the matter of the cliffs submits its recommendations and acts on them, there will still be cliffs to be saved." Neither the Environmental Protection Ministry nor the Interior Ministry's committee for the protection of beach environs were informed of the plan. "The boulders at the base of the cliff can also cause long-term damage because they were not laid on the basis of engineering planning or in consideration of the movement of sand on the beach," the Environmental Protection Ministry said, adding that it would investigate the legality of the construction.