23/07/2015
Ashkelon Beach Photo: Benny Weiner

Saving Ashkelon's Coastal Cliff
Ashkelon Beach
Photo: Benny Weiner
Work to strengthen the Ashkelon coastal cliff has begun this week. Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay and top professionals from the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MoEP) went to the Ashkelon beach on July 22nd, to watch as a boat brought sand from the sea to the beach. This is the first phase of a national project to protect the coastal cliffs from collapsing. Erosion of coastal cliffs between the cities of Ashkelon and Hadera has already caused parts to collapse, endangering both people and nearby structures.

The sands of Ashkelon

The Israel Electric Corp. (IEC) applied for a permit a few weeks ago, to extract sand from the Ashkelon beach, which is near the Rutenberg power station in Ashkelon. The IEC wanted to move some 80 thousand cubic meters of sand into the sea, in order to deepen the harbor for arriving ships.

The MoEP said that instead, the sand must be returned to the Ashkelon beach, it’s natural home, which is what is being done now. The work of bringing the sand back to the beach is being overseen by the Mediterranean Coastal Cliffs Preservation Government Company Ltd., a government company that was created in 2013 and is responsible for all coastal cliff issues.

Minister Avi Gabbay: "The State of Israel must prevail over bureaucracy. If we don’t win here, the sand that is currently saving the cliff would be thrown into the deep sea. When I heard that the IEC is planning to take the sand that has accumulated near its Ashkelon power station and dump it into the sea, I explained that I would not let this happen. We will not sit by quietly and allow such foolishness. The sand of Ashkelon will save the beaches of Ashkelon."

The problem with Israel’s coastal cliffs

Coastal cliffs can be found along 45 kilometers of Israel’s Mediterranean shoreline, between the cities of Hadera and Ashkelon. The cliffs are retreating by dozens of centimeters each year, on average, and have begun to collapse in some areas. This has caused landslides, and puts both people and nearby structures at risk.

In 2010, the government passed a resolution to deal with the issue, and in April 2011, lawmakers approved a half a billion shekel coastal cliff protection program. Last month, the Housing Cabinet approved a National Outline Plan to protect the cliffs. The plan will allow local authorities to issue expedited building permits for the construction of protective structures that will reinforce areas in danger of collapsing. Learn more about Israel’s coastal cliffs.