Israeli Demonstrators Break Into Kibbutz to Swim in Stream

Protesters claim the Asi Stream is a natural resource that should be enjoyed by all, not just kibbutz residents

Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel
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The Asi Stream and Kibbutz Nir David, 2020.
The Asi Stream and Kibbutz Nir David, 2020. Credit: Ofer Vaknin
Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel

Several dozen demonstrators managed to enter Kibbutz Nir David in the northern Jordan Valley through the main gate on Friday afternoon, during a demonstration over the opening of the Asi Stream to the public.

Locals protested against the kibbutz closing its gates, thereby preventing non-residents from enjoying access to the banks of the kilometer-long stream, a tributary of the Sakhne River.

The police commented that they had prepared in time to prevent disturbances and couldn’t say who opened the gate to the kibbutz. They added that they detained two demonstrators for disturbing the peace.

Protesters swimming in the Asi Stream, Friday, August 14, 2020. Credit: Gil Eliahu

The current fight over the Asi, also known as Amal Stream, began last September. In recent months, after the protests were revived, demonstrations were held on Fridays outside the kibbutz gates by residents of Beit She’an and other communities in the vicinity. One group filed a class-action suit against the kibbutz in June, suing Nir David for 36 million shekels ($10.6 million) for denying access to the stream.

In wake of the weekly protests, the kibbutz closed all its gates to prevent anyone from entering. Kibbutz residents also complained that the demonstrators came up to the kibbutz in a convoy of vehicles on Thursday night around 10 P.M. and honked as they drove from gate to gate.

Despite a compromise being reached last week between the head of the regional council, the kibbutz and the mayor of the city of Beit She’an by which a portion of the stream was opened to the public, the demonstrators did not accept the agreement and said they would continue protesting.

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