KKL-JNF, together with the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) and the Mevaseret Zion Regional Council, organized an event on Friday, February 2 to sound the alarm on plans afoot to start building on Mount Heret just outside Jerusalem. KKL-JNF regularly engages in public awareness campaigns when Israel's natural treasures come under threat from development, successfully preserving beautiful sites for generations to come.
The participants said that they came to protect one of Israel’s rare natural treasures. Twelve hundred school children took part, together with parents and green activists. The participants walked up the mountain alongside the old quarry and heard explanations of what was being planned.
KKL-JNF Judean Hills Forest and Community Director Gidi Bashan said that as a result of the high property prices and country-wide housing shortage, the government has made what he termed “irrational and hysterical decisions”. Bashan said “besides destroying a scarce and unique natural park, the costs to build on Mount Heret will 4 times more than in Jerusalem itself”. He said that according to recent data “there is room in the capital to easily construct over 100 thousand housing units”.
KKL-JNF regularly engages in public awareness campaigns when Israel's natural treasures come under threat from development, successfully preserving beautiful sites for the public and future generations to come.
SPNI Jerusalem Planning Coordinator Yael Eliashar called it a “selfish and stupid plan”. She said “the people who attended the event could not imagine that their local scenic nature reserve may soon be covered with buildings, roads, and shops and bring more pollution to their area. “And what of all the gazelles that live here?” she asked. “Do any of the decision-makers even know that there are gazelles here? This silly idea has to be rejected, as was the Safadi plan to expand Jerusalem just a few years ago”.
KKL-JNF Events Director Edna Feinstein explained that the event was not designed as a protest, but rather to raise awareness on the dangers ahead to residents of Jerusalem and Mevaseret Zion and the Israelis at large. “The people must know” she said, “because only they have the power to stop these plans”. Feinstein also pointed out that the fact that children and their teachers from all the junior schools in Mevaseret Zion took part clearly shows that the Mayor Yoram Shimon supports this effort.
Shai Dror, a resident of Mevaseret who attended the event with his children, said that he is fearful. “If the plan goes ahead” he warned, “the entire ecosystem of the area will be destroyed, and affect everyone’s quality of life.”