Keeping Up the Fight / Yitzhak Sadeh's Garden Damaged by City Efforts to Keep Cliff Intact, Son Says

Yoram Sadeh, who lives in his late father's Jaffa home, has been involved since 2001 in disputes with neighbors who accuse him of exploiting his father's memory to take control of public land.

The son of first Palmach commander Yitzhak Sadeh says the garden of his late father's Jaffa home has been damaged by work the city is carrying out at the site, which is meant to protect the cliff on which the house is built.

Yoram Sadeh, who lives in the house, has been involved since 2001 in disputes with neighbors who accuse him of exploiting his father's memory to take control of public land.

He says part of the garden has been ruined and other parts are in danger as a consequence of the construction by the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality of a stone wall intended to keep the cliff from collapsing.

"The northern cliff of the yard of Yitzhak Sadeh's house was beautiful and covered with dense vegetation, and posed no danger to pedestrians," said Yoram Sadeh. "Last year part of the garden was burned but it has begun to revive. At the start of the year we were informed that the city was planning to reinforce the cliff next to the yard, to the Bat Yam border.

Yitzhak Sadeh, who died in 1952, was one of the founders of the Palmach, the pre-state underground Jewish militia, and its first commander.

Marine geologist Yaacov Nir, one of several experts Yoram Sadeh consulted with, suggested moving the planned location of the protective wall two meters to the west, closer to the sea. Nir, one of Israel's foremost experts on coastal cliffs, said that would obviate the need to alter the cliff and would also protect people on the beach below from falling rocks.

The city went ahead with its original plan. According to Sadeh, the workers did not use sufficient care and caused the foundations of the garden to collapse.

"The damage to the historic garden is enormous, and years of work to maintain it were lost," Sadeh said, adding the winter rain and wind will exacerbate the damage.

Nir said a wall must be built to protect the garden.

The municipality said the work is designed to stabilize the cliff and prevent rocks from sliding down and endangering passersby.

"The work is being done in compliance with the Dangerous Buildings Ordinance, under close supervision and in accordance with the directives of an external team that includes a marine engineer and a soil engineer, with maximum sensitivity and the minimum [work] required to ensure public safety," the city said in a statement.

The municipality said it was unclear why Sadeh was claiming the yard was damaged. Regarding the location of the protective wall, the city said the beach is too narrow at that point to allow a wall to be built closer to the waterline.