Residents of Towns Near Ben-Gurion Airport Protest Noisy Night Flights

Residents of Kfar Truman, Ginaton and other communities close to Ben-Gurion International Airport demonstrated yesterday to protest the noise made by aircraft taking off and landing during the night.

In recent weeks the noise problem has intensified, in the wake of a decision by the Israel Airports Authority to close one of the runways for repairs that are expected to take 18 months. As a result, night flights are taking off from a different runway and overflying many nearby population centers, disturbing the sleep of residents.

"The aircraft pass over our home and the noise is deafening, the windows shake and anyone who managed to fall asleep wakes up while many others simply can't fall asleep," Ahuva Almogi of Kfar Truman said.

"People who don't sleep well become nervous and are likely to have accidents. I found myself more than once about to fall asleep at the wheel. We live in a moshav, and we have little public transportation available so there's no alternative to driving. Why are we exposed to such dangers?," Almogi added.

Almogi says that she has learned to identify the models of the aircraft flying overhead by the sound of their engines. "The worst is the jumbo," she says. "I'm already used to the 737 and it doesn't wake me up. But when a jumbo flies overhead I wake up. Even an elephant would wake up from such noise. It is enormous and sudden, like a missile striking the house. Sometimes I fear that some plane will fall right onto my house, like that El Al jet that crashed in Schiphol [near Amsterdam]."

Ahuva's husband, Shaul Almogi, is the head of the Kfar Truman residents' committee. He told Haaretz yesterday that he often has to take breaks at work to make up for lost sleep. "My earnings are suffering. Every plane that takes off wakes me. Nearly ever night I call the control tower and talk to the duty officer to find out whether more disturbances are expected during the night. The control tower staff are very polite, but they say that it's not up to them. More people from the community call them or the Airports Authority, complaining and demanding a solution."

Almogi says that he even filed a police complaint against the Airports Authority over the aircraft noise.

The Airports Authority decline to respond to questions yesterday about residents' frequent calls to the air traffic control tower. Officials said that the runway improvements were unavoidable and are the result of recommendations made by a safety committee. They also said that they had no knowledge about a police complaint being filed against them.