Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Galilee Beaches Like a Garbage Can after Passover

This year the Israeli government took over maintenance of the public beaches on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee.  Visitors during Passover week were given free entrance and garbage bags, a change from years when fees were charged in exchange for services.  It didn’t work so well, as the visitors apparently don’t know how to use the garbage bags.  From Haaretz:

"It's a catastrophe," said Shai, who had come to Lavnun Beach from Azor, with 11 of his friends. "It's like being inside a garbage can," he said.

The Kinneret Association of Towns issued a press release before Pesach, announcing that no entrance fees would be charged during the holiday week at three beaches on the eastern side of the lake - Kursi, Halukim and Lavnun. In addition, the boulders preventing parking along the beach were to be removed. "The association requests that visitors keep the beaches and environs clean," the announcement said.

Maybe the visitors were told how to use the garbage bags, but it didn’t help.

Visitors were handed garbage bags and an explanatory flyer at the entrance, and there were many inspectors on patrol. Nevertheless, the beaches were scattered with garbage, broken glass, and charcoal from beachgoers' barbecues. In addition, wooden beach shelters were destroyed, and toilets - upgraded in advance of the holiday - were broken and filthy.

The former operator of the beaches blamed the government association.

Shlomo Guetta operated the beach for nearly 30 years before he was convicted of illegally erecting fences and various structures on the beach and was forced out.

Guetta, who was also at the beach during the holiday, likened the association's attempt to manage the beaches to someone who "tries to hijack a plane after killing the pilot, before learning how to land the plane alone. There was a crash here. People were promised free beaches and what they got was garbage in their faces. I protected the beach for years and in the end they made me the bad guy who took it away from the public. But why do you think people came here all those years? Because the beach was kept up properly," Guetta said.

Eli Raz said that he comes to Lavnun Beach every year, from his home in Jerusalem. "This was the Kinneret's most beautiful beach, now I've got to get out of here," because of the filth.

The rest of the sad story is here.



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