Another Fine Mess

Sanitary workers continued yesterday with the cleanup of "unprecedented" quantities of garbage left by vacationers on the shores of Lake Kinneret over the Passover holiday.

Most of the trash was left on the Lavnun, Tzinabrei and Halukim beaches, among others, formerly private beaches recently transferred to the Kinneret Association of Towns.

The group was set up specifically to operate the Kinneret's shores and make them accessible to the general public. During the holiday the beaches were opened to the public free of charge.

Photographs published in Haaretz yesterday suggest that although the beaches were being cleaned throughout Passover, the workers couldn't cope with the trash left by the 200,000 people who visited the lake.

Some of the public toilets refurbished for the holiday had also been trashed, with a number of toilet seats smashed to pieces.

"This is very regrettable, especially considering the beautiful initiative to open up the beaches to the public," said MK Dov Khenin (Hadash), head of the society and environment caucus in the Knesset, who initiated the Kinneret law and the setting up of the Union of Kinneret Cities.

"This is a great initiative but it should have been accompanied with proactive work to ensure a successful ending. There are plenty of lessons to learn, but none of them include privatizing the beaches."

Khenin stressed that there was no reason Israel should close the beaches to the public the beaches in the wake of the mess.

"Israel has well-managed public beaches and its possible to implement good management at the Kinneret as well," he said.

He added that he believed the solution was "appropriate preparation that would include a large contingent of inspectors, who would operate proactively and fine anyone throwing or leaving trash in public areas or by the lake water. More garbage disposal sites also need to be created. When the public feels the place is already dirty, it stops cooperating."

Moshe Perlmutter, beach coordinator for the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, told Haaretz there was more at stake than a dirty beach. "The Kinneret is a public resource and a symbol of our conduct to public areas - including nature, heritage, culture and leisure sites."

"The Kinneret Association of Towns has many responsibilities, including keeping the beaches open and clean, keeping passage between the beaches open and removing illegal fences," Perlmutter said. "We hope that both the association and the wider public will increase their efforts to preserve the Kinneret, because it's the only Kinneret we have."