'Glilot Excavation Endangering Daffodils'

One of the last remaining open areas in the Gush Dan area is in danger of being destroyed by archeological digs, an environmentalist group said.

The Israel Antiquities Authority's excavation site near the Glilot Junction is endangering hundreds of daffodils, activists said. This is probably one of Israel's largest daffodil fields, and it attracts local nature lovers, especially in early winter, when the plants begin to bloom.

The earthworks began two weeks ago in the area, which is designated for construction. However, no building permits have been granted yet, and a detailed construction plan has not yet been approved. The Antiquities Authority came to the area in order to ensure construction does not destroy any archeological sites there.

Roee Mimran of Green Course - Students for the Environment contacted the Israel Nature and National Parks Authority and asked them to try to block the digs. He also requested the Parks Authority send workers to replant the daffodil bulbs that have been uprooted by the Antiquities Authority machines.

"The Antiquities Authority's dig includes deep plowing, and this could harm the field and end the daffodil bloom there," he said. "We believe that this is an unreasonable and unacceptable action that harms protected plants, and it cannot be justified by the need to discover more graves."

Commenting on the plans to build in the area, Mimran said that before building permits are granted, the Parks Authority will survey the area's fauna and flora, and that it would likely block the destruction of the daffodil field.

Daffodils have special cultural significance in many cultures. In Greek mythology the flower is seen as a symbol of vanity, while in China it is considered a symbol of wealth and good fortune.

Besides daffodils, the field contains another 220 species of flora and fauna.

The Antiquities Authority responded to the complaints by saying that all its works in the area are being conducted under Israel Nature and National Parks Authority supervision, and that all bulbs are relocated or put back in place.

But the environmentalists working to protect the field say that even if this is true, disturbed bulbs may not be able to produce flowers after being replanted.

"The area in Glilot, where a new neighborhood is designated to be built, contains relics of the old Tel Baruch antiquities site," the Antiquities Authority said. "Past digs revealed burial systems, mosaics and agricultural facilities."