Our beaches are under threat from over-development. Our coastline is under threat from climate change. And plastic is polluting the Mediterranean, destroying its ecosystem, and degrading the coastal environment.
Since 1997, when we won our first lawsuit against construction on a public beach, we’ve been protectors of the coasts.
Israel’s Mediterranean coastal strip is only 200 km (124 miles) from north to south. About a third of that is dedicated to ports, security facilities and infrastructure such as power stations and desalination plants.
Over-development is degrading the shoreline.
Adam Teva V’Din drafted and promoted the Coastal Protection Law (2004). Lawmakers approved the bill but stripped it of core tenets with regard to beachfront development. Nearly 20 years later, the threat of over-development is still not resolved and over 30 sizeable beachfront construction plans are approved but not yet actualized.
In 2016, we challenged the Ministry of Tourism’s attempt to weaken safeguards to private construction through an incentive scheme granting hotels waivers to the law in order to build private residences in their facilities. His attempt failed, Adam Teva V’Din succeeded.
Over the last 25 years, we have filed dozens of planning objections and legal petitions against use of public beaches and coastal nature reserves for residential development. One of earliest was our lawsuit against the Northern District Planning Committee which had approved construction of several large towers along a mile of public beach, for mixed commercial and residential uses. The court ruled that the national plan for coastal preservation forbids residential building on the beachfront. The judge ruled in Adam Teva V’Din’s favor, halting the project and reducing the scale of a second tower in early stages of construction. While this case serves as a warning to other developers, the owner of the project has made several attempts to secure a new ruling, until slapped down in 2020 by the Supreme Court.
Lawsuits filed by Adam Teva V’Din together with high profile public campaigns by communities halted a luxury beachfront resort on the last remaining open natural beach in the central area, Palmachim. The area was later protected by designating the site as a national park. In a similar case in the north, we secured a ruling reducing the impact of pre-2004 building permit at the Achziv beach, adjacent to Nahariya.
The beaches of Israel are a first-rate social resource. In a sunny country like ours, everyone loves the beach: rich and poor, families, Arabs, religious Jews, new immigrants.
As early as 1959, Judge Jacob Gavison of the Tel Aviv District Court overturned a conviction against a Herzliya beach-goer who refused to pay to enter a public beach. In his ruling, he wrote: “God’s gift of the seashore, the enjoyment of its fresh air and its magnificent landscape…are not among items whose use can be made conditional on any sort of payment.”
However, the principle was only sporadically applied and in 2004 Adam Teva V’Din filed on the public’s behalf against the Interior Ministry. After four years of litigation, the Supreme Court ruled in 2017 favor of Adam Teva V’Din and authorities were forced to cease charging entrance fees to public beaches.
Today, our agenda includes tackling emerging challenges to our coasts
Research shows that the volume of micro plastics in Israel’s territorial waters is 9 times greater than that of other Mediterranean countries. Moreover, the garbage left on public beaches is 90% plastic of which 38% are single use plastic plates, 16% plastic cups and 12% plastic bags.
There are several enthusiastic grassroots groups organizing clean-up days and campaigning for Israelis to take their garbage home with them. More power to them!
Here at Adam Teva V’Din, we’re working with municipalities who want clean beaches, helping them draft municipal bylaws that forbid the use of single-use plastics on public beaches. It’s a step in the right direction!
Climate change is here.
Climate change is causing sea levels to rise, coupled with dense coastal development and damaging storms, the future of Israel beaches is under threat.
Adam Teva V’Din is partnering with the Forum of Coastal Municipalities and the Center for Local Government at Tel Aviv University in a multi-year program for developing Integrated Coastal Zone Management tools.
The partners are revolutionizing how local leaders can best protect their resources by managing the beach, the sea and the town as a single integrated unit.