Activists block Jerusalem Chords Bridge in protest of third Ashkelon facility

Yael Darel
Published: 01.18.11, 07:48 / Israel Activism

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Greenpeace Organization activists climbed the Jerusalem Chords Bridge on Sunday protesting against the planned opening of a third coal plant in Ashkelon.

The activists arrived at the city entrance around 5:30 am, blocked the bridge and hung posters saying: “Bibi stop the coal plant,” calling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to halt the project. The organizers said the famous bridge was chosen in order to place the posters in plain view of the Prime Minister’s Office.

The huge 18-meter banner (about 60 feet) called Netanyahu to oppose a plan to build a coal plant in the southern city of Ashkelon.

This protest joins a list of environment rallies organized by Greenpeace in recent years against the coal plant project in the south. The timing of the demonstrations is not accidental: Sometime in the next few days, Finance Ministry Director-General Chaim Shani is expected to submit his recommendations on the issue to the government.

The project, named ‘Project D’, was promoted by Israel Electric Corporation and by the Ministry of National Infrastructures. They claimed the Israeli electric economy needed another energy plant, but the Environmental Protection Ministry objected to it because the proposal was to build a coal plant.

The Environmental Protection Ministry and environmental organizations claimed that a coal plant will harm the air quality in Ashkelon and increase morbidity. They demanded the Ministry of National Infrastructures to invest in more energy-efficient and cleaner options to produce electricity.

Greenpeace said on Sunday that they “hope Shani took under consideration the disastrous outcomes of another polluting plant, hurting the Ashkelon residents’ health, as well as it’s ‘contribution’ to over a 10% increase in Israeli greenhouse gas.”

The organization also mentioned that the discovery of natural gas by both the Tamar and Leviathan drilling make the coal plant unnecessary. “The decision regarding the future of Israeli citizens lies in the hands of the prime minister, and we urge him not to approve a coal plant,” they said.

Greenpeace Spokeswoman Hila Krupsky said: “We are here today, on the Chords Bridge, to call on Netanyahu and remind him that coal burning is the major cause of pollution, morbidity and an increase in climate change.”

According to Krupsky, “Just this past year we’ve witnessed a drastic change in the weather, a tough drought and barley any rain. We experienced the horrible Carmel fire in December. Today one can no longer ignore the climate change and the responsibility to stop this phenomenon. Benjamin Netanyahu, you are the head of this State and the responsibility rests on your shoulders.”,7340,L-4014282,00.html