Anytime Rishon Letzion residents want to enjoy a pristine, natural beach, they don't need to go far.
Just a few minutes from the bustling city lies Palmahim, a beach that made headlines Sunday after the cabinet ordered the Central District Planning and Building Committee to review its decision to build a resort there.
Near the beach's entry point are the remains of building materials where the resort was slated to be built, and plans for the resort they portrayed as exceptionally well-integrated into the setting.
Nearby lie placards left by opponents of the plan deriding the resort as "invasive."
Yesterday beachgoers welcomed the government decision's to put the plan on hold. "This was our childhood beach, both of us," says Amir Jufari. "To me it was as if they were taking something that was mine without even asking."
Further down the beach, Eyal Keidar of Rishon Letzion played paddleball with a friend, just as they had for years.
"We're a small country without much nature, and that's why we have to be smart," Keidar said. "Maybe we could set up a camping site here or some restrooms, but the beauty of this place is that it's almost completely untouched. There are no restaurants or homes along the beach as there are in Rishon - maybe a resort should be built there. The entire population of this area comes to this beach, and it has to be left to the public."
Rishon Letzion city hall officials say they are aware of the beach's importance for the city. After the government decision, Mayor Dov Zur issued a response stating, "Palmahim is one of the few remaining wild, pristine and beautiful beaches that are available for public use. Most residents of Rishon Letzion choose to visit there, as do residents of nearby cities. We therefore welcome the government's decision. Israel's contractors will keep building and entrepreneurs will continue to enterprise even if the Palmahim development plan is canceled."
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