The main parking lots along the beaches of Lake Kinneret will be closed on Yom Kippur for the first time, following a decision by the Union of Kinneret Cities. Until now these lots were closed only on Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers.
In response to a query by Haaretz, sources at the Union said their decision –which was made last July but only publicized this month – came in response to “public sensitivity.”
The closure will affect 15 beaches out of more than 40 along the lake shore, some of which are private or unauthorized.
On Yom Kippur the beaches are frequented by many visitors, both non-Jews and secular Jews. The parking lots of the Union of Kinneret Cities are within easy walking distance of the beaches; others require walking at least 500 meters.
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The Union’s decision to close their parking lots evoked anger among many vacationers.
“It’s a secular place – what do they want? To prevent Muslims and Christians from having a barbecue?” said one Golan Heights resident who goes to the lake every week.
“It’s not the role of the council or of city hall to decide how good a Jew I am,” she added, noting that if the beach parking lot is closed she will have to park on the road, which she sees as dangerous and annoying.
The Union’s announcement listed the 15 beaches that would be closed from 12:00 A.M. on Tuesday until 20:00 P.M. on Wednesday and noted that this would apply on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and on Yom Kippur.
The Union of Kinneret Cities responded to this story saying that “following the council’s decision, starting this year parking lots will close on Yom Kippur and on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, as well as on Memorial Day for fallen soldiers, as was the case until now.
“No emergency services will be available at the Kinneret, making bathing prohibited and dangerous,” said the Union. “We invite the public to continue to visit and enjoy our beaches, which have become ‘quiet’ beaches this year, where loud music is forbidden. This is part of the Union’s activity to enhance vacationers’ experience at our national lake and to return families to the lake and the lake to families.”