dunes - Itzik Ben-Malki - November 23 2010
Dunes in a nature reserve bordering Caesarea, November 23, 2010. Photo by Itzik Ben-Malki
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The Shin Bet security service has come up with a plan, as reported by Zafrir Rinat in Haaretz on Wednesday, to pave a special road to connect Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's home in Caesarea with Route 2, the coastal highway. The road is supposed to pass through a nature reserve. The plan is an infuriating absurdity.

The nature reserve, a strip of sand dunes between Caesarea and the coastal highway, is one of the last vestiges of the region's dunes. These natural resources have already been gradually destroyed in recent years by massive construction, road paving, the creation of water, sewage and electricity infrastructure for villa neighborhoods, and the building of an earthen embankment to separate Caesarea from the Arab community of Jisr al-Zarqa.

These activities are no different from irreversible planning distortions in other places, but the idea of paving a private road for the prime minister in a nature reserve is particularly scandalous. It's inconceivable for the Shin Bet's security division to exploit its power and present planning groups and the Nature and Parks Authority with a demand based on vague security reasons, which in Israel are very hard to object to.

Since the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, the Shin Bet has adopted sweeping and exaggerated security methods that convey belligerence and decisions known as "covering your ass." Closing transportation routes, removing vehicles to the shoulders of the road when a VIP's car passes, overusing security guards around VIPs' homes in a manner that makes the neighbors' lives miserable - all these are trappings of a third-world country. It's not clear whether these methods are effective, but it's doubtful whether a properly administered society can accept them.

It's far more absurd when at issue is a private residence that serves only the current prime minister, and even then only on weekends. It's inconceivable that public areas, particularly green ones, will be abandoned to unbridled aggression by the security services. The prime minister, who is in charge of the Shin Bet, must instruct the authors of this dubious idea to shelve it immediately.