Kinneret Drainage Authority Tears Down Illegal Fence Around Church Land

After church loses two appeals, fence removed as part of project to make Lake Kinneret more accessible to public.

Moshe Gilad

The Kinneret Drainage Authority last week tore down an illegally built fence around a private area belonging to a church on the banks of the Kinneret as part of a project to make the lake more accessible to the public.

The church had built the 2.5-meter-high, kilometer-long fence to close off an area adjacent to the church that is known as “the Russian Garden.” The demolition took place after two courts denied the church’s appeals to keep it in place.

“The authority is acting to prevent private parties from taking over public areas and is opening the beaches around the lake to the public,” said Moshe Har Zion, the authority’s head of supervision and enforcement.

Built along the water line, the fence did not block the pedestrian path around the lake completely but would do so if the Kinneret level rises, the authority said.

A drainage authority official said the fence was taken down as part of a project to make all Kinneret beaches accessible to the public by building a path around the lake with free access to the water.

“Now hikers can enjoy the section of the path between Migdal and Tiberias,” the official said.

The church staff said the fence was needed to prevent people from entering the private property, since visitors did not always behave appropriately and modestly in the compound.

The Kinneret Drainage Authority said the church had failed to obtain the required permits for the fence. The authority said it posted a sign asking hikers to keep out of the church’s private compound due to the “sensitivity” of the site.

The fence was torn down after the Tiberias Magistrate’s Court and Nazareth District Court denied the property owners’ appeals against the demolition.

The drainage authority said 87 percent of the 56-kilometer path is already accessible to the public, but a number of beaches are still closed to the public in Tiberias, Ein Gev and other lakeside communities.