Stop Industrial Development on Rare Habitat in Israel

Target: Yossi Lahmani, CEO of the firm Abu Yechiel

Goal: Stop industrial companies from building on Israeli land that should be protected.

A section of land north of Ashdod, Israel is in danger of being invaded, and possibly destroyed, by the development of an industrial zone on its sand dunes. Despite receiving over 3,000 objections, the committee responsible for the zone’s approval failed to accept any of them and will allow the industrial firm Abu Yechiel to begin building on what was once protected land. If this decision remains unaltered it will have drastic, permanent consequences for Israel’s ecology. It must be stopped before the process moves any further.

The area is the largest surviving section of sandy habitat at 21 square kilometers, but the development of industry, military installations, and coastal cities are rapidly encroaching. At the turn of the century this region exceeded 500 square kilometers. Dr. Boaz Shacham at the Hebrew University’s Department of Evolution, Systematics, and Ecology, submitted an expert opinion to the committee, which was also ignored. His report explained that developing on this land would endanger several species of lizards and rodents that are endemic to the area. The removal of groves of sycamore and acacia trees, which act as a buffer around the dunes, will also invite stray predators and take away sanctuary for birds and gazelles.

Yossi Lehmani, CEO of Abu Lechiel, not only claims that the information being spread about the development is a lie—that there were only two objections and they have made provisions for the environment—but also that they have the support of the Environmental Protection Ministry of Israel and other environmental groups. One of those groups, however, is still fighting to protect the Ashdod sand dunes. Despite Lehmani’s claim that the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel is satisfied with the firm’s land use, SPNI stresses that during the committee hearing 8 binders filled with 400 objections each, including 2 reports from ecological experts, were presented.

This appears to be yet another case in which the influence of short-term financial gain has triumphed over long-term ecological preservation. Please take a moment to sign the petition below not only stop Abu Lechiel from destroying such a unique ecosystem, but also to show that the environment should never be pushed aside for industry.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Yossi Lehmani,

Your company Abu Lechiel recently received approval to develop on the Ashdod sand dunes despite thousands of complaints that you continue to deny. Local experts have confirmed that building on this land would destroy the largest surviving section of sandy habitat and endanger several species of animals that are endemic to the region. Poisoning such a unique ecosystem when it should be protected and preserved for the future is a serious price to pay for whatever monetary gains might come of it for you. It is a simple matter of choosing what is best for Israel and for the world over your own wants and desires.

Please reconsider your decision and listen to those experts and citizens who whole-heartedly object to this development. Their lives and opinions matter and so do those of the wildlife you would be so selfishly endangering. You can rebuild anywhere, but unfortunately, they cannot.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Gentry George via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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