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Blame games in the Sasgon Valley

A few days ago, we were dumbfounded to discover that the State is suing us and demanding that we pay the Igra Hotel group 15 million NIS ($4 million) worth of damages.





In 2008, a Los Vegas style luxury resort threatened to endanger the untouched beauty of the Sasgon Valley, the last remaining stretch of undeveloped desert in the Negev. The members of the Arava community, as well as others who care about preserving this precious region, were thrilled when the Be’er Sheva District Court moderated the hotel’s building plans.


Now, the developer is suing the State to recover losses he claims to have suffered due to the fact that the building permission was issued in error.


In an aim to shirk itself of the responsibility to compensate the entrepreneur, the State is trying to shift the blame to Adam Teva V’Din, as well as the community activists who joined us in objection to the desert construction. In our opinion, the attempt to point an accusing finger at us, a public interest representative, rather than accepting responsibility is highly inappropriate as well as disturbingly reminiscent of a SLAPP suit (strategic lawsuit against public participation).


SLAPP suits are nothing new to environmentalists; corporate moguls use these bully boy tactics all the time. However this is an unprecedented, game-changing move as the State is the one who is suing us- for 15 million NIS ($4 million) no less.

This absurd legal ploy has fundamental and far-reaching anti-democratic ramifications:

Will ordinary citizens and environmental organizations now think twice before confronting affluent offenders? Should we turn a blind eye and keep our mouths shut about environmental misconduct at the highest levels?


We think not!


We have already voiced our outrage to the Attorney General and responded in the strongest terms. We will not be intimidated by these tactics, not now and not in future environmental disputes.


We will keep you updated on future developments.

Read Amir Ben David’s article (Yediot Acharonot) on the saga (Hebrew).


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