Greens Want to Stop Navy Construction on a Most Beautiful Beach' Near Atlit

The Israel Navy is building a base in Atlit that could endanger one of the country's most beautiful beaches, according to an environmentalist group.

The group, Blue-Green (Kahol-Yarok), and a resident of Atlit, Bezalel Gideon, have appealed to the Haifa District Court to order the defense establishment to stop building warehouses at the base, and to make public the guidelines according to which permits are issued for such building. The hearings are scheduled for tomorrow.

The Israel Defense Forces and the defense establishment get permits for building facilities from a committee for security facilities, which is affiliated with the regional planning committee but whose deliberations are held in camera. Until now, the environmental activists have not tried to bring them to court despite misgivings about the effect of certain facilities on the surroundings.

The IDF has a total of 31 kilometers of the shoreline at its disposal. About two and a half years ago, it began construction work at the base on the southern coast of Atlit, apparently with the intention of using the warehouses for storing weapons and ammunition.

The Blue-Greens approached the navy on the issue but were unable to obtain information. The Interior Ministry likewise offered no information.

After several letters to the navy's legal advisor, the environmentalists were told that the warehouses had not received permits but had been advised of the restrictions that apply to civilian construction in the area.

At this point, the group decided to appeal to the court to stop the construction work. The claim notes that the beach in question has been proposed as a nature preserve because of the special qualities of its rock formations which, it says, are being destroyed by sand from the construction work. The claim adds that the work is illegal since it did not receive the required permits and that the shore will be ruined by the time the IDF vacates it.

The Haifa district planning committee did not give the issue sufficient consideration, the claim says, and no alternative site was sought.

In its response, the IDF says that the construction work received the agreement of green groups, such as the Society for the Protection of Nature.

The society says, however, that the IDF agreed to make only minor amendments to its construction plans and did not search for an alternative to the Atlit site.