Israel Closes Beaches in South for Army Training Exercise

IDF did not say what the exercise was about and how it might endanger bathers; Nitzanim beach may reopen Thursday

The Nitzanim beach last week.
Tomer Appelbaum

The Israel Defense Forces closed the southern Nitzanim beach to bathers on Monday for four days to conduct a training exercise. The exercise was planned well in advance, said the IDF, but declined to provide any details about the exercise or how it might endanger bathers at the beach, which is near Ashkelon – south of Tel Aviv and north of Gaza on the Mediterranean Sea.

Closing a public beach for such a long period for an exercise is considered quite an unusual event.

The closure order, issued by the head of the Central Command Maj. Gen. Nadav Padan, closed the beach from Sunday through Friday afternoon. But the military and the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council said the beach will be reopened on Thursday.

No one is allowed to enter the closed area, or leave it, unless they have written permission from the military, states the closure order.  

The regional council in charge of the beach told area residents to expect a lot of military activity in the region, including vehicles, planes and helicopters. An Air Force exercise is also taking place and it will end on Thursday, and explosions and warning sirens may be heard from the bases in the area, said the Hof Ashkelon Council.