The Defense Ministry has demolished abandoned military posts in the Jordan Valley that housed hundreds of protected bats, despite understandings with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.In the process, hundreds of bats were probably buried alive. The ministry says it asked the parks authority to take responsibility for the sites, but that these requests were ignored.
"Hundreds of Trident bats, mostly males, were buried alive in the two demolished posts. These posts housed between 500 and 600 bats," said bat expert Eran Amichai.
In recent years, experts discovered colonies of 12 different species at around a dozen abandoned army posts in the Jordan Valley. The bats used the posts because they resembled natural caves.
"The two posts at Tel Yishmael were probably the most important sites for Trident bats," Amichai said. "This species was once more common in many areas in Israel, but in recent years these habitats have become few and far between."
After realizing the importance of the abandoned posts in the Jordan Valley, experts appealed to the Defense Ministry to declare the sites bat sanctuaries. The ministry promised that it would coordinate any activity in the area with the parks authority.
"According to the understandings, the Defense Ministry was supposed to inform us of any such activity so that we would be able to save protected species. Unfortunately, this didn't happen," said a spokesman for the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel.
The Jewish National Fund said the area was not under its responsibility, but on Monday a member of the JNF directorate, Prof. Alon Tal, said the JNF should have taken responsibility for the area to protect the bats. A Defense Ministry spokesman said the ministry requested several times that the JNF and parks authority take responsibility for the area, and even offered to fund part of the costs.
"When there was no response, the Defense Ministry had no choice but to demolish the posts, fearing that they would become a health and security hazard," the spokesman said.