Palmachim Tomer Appelbaum
The site on Palmachim beach where a resort had been planned. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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The best beaches in Israel are Tel Aviv’s Hatzuk beach, Herzliya’s Hanachim beach, the Galilee’s Shavei Zion beach and Haifa’s Dado beach, according to the grading released by the Environmental Protection Ministry yesterday.

The ministry’s grading was inspired by Blue Flag, an internationally recognized beach grading system, ranking beaches according to 14 criteria such as water quality, lifeguard services, cleanliness and recreation facilities.

“The grading will provide information about the standard and quality of our beaches, thus leading to upgrading their public services,” Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan said.

The ministry graded the beaches on the basis of water quality, cleanliness, parking, accessibility for the disabled, facilities, connection to sewage system and public opinion. It also took into consideration the opinion of the health and interior ministries, which are also involved in the project.

The Environment Ministry intends to grade the beaches every two weeks during the bathing season, awarding the highest-ranking beach three flags and the lowest-ranking beach one flag.

More than half of Israel’s bathing beaches − 53 percent − were awarded three flags by the current grading, with Hatzuk in Tel Aviv, Hanachim in Herzliya and Shavei Zion beach in the lead. Twenty-seven beaches received two flags and only 5 percent received one flag. The lowest-ranking beaches are Acre’s Hatmarim beach, Dor beach on Hof Hacarmel, Bat Yam’s Hasela beach and Tel Aviv’s Aviv beach.

The local authorities’ awareness of the need to look after beaches properly has improved, a ministry official said. Most of them were clean but were given a low grade mainly due to a lack of facilities such as toilets, changing rooms and showers, as well as access for the disabled.

“This is just the season’s opening and the beaches will have to be examined further on,” said the ministry’s director of the sea and beaches department, Rani Amir. “I hope the grading spurs authorities whose beaches received low grades to improve them,” Amir said.