01/17/2011 03:57

5 people rappel their way up 60 meters, drape sign “Bibi, Stop the Coal Power Station” in protest of Ashkelon coal-fired plant.

Although it will be at least seven more months until Jerusalem’s Bridge of Strings is used by the light rail, the majestic structure is already being used for illegal protests visible to anyone entering or leaving the capital.

Thousands of people gazed into the sky on Sunday, watching five people who had rappelled their way up about 60 meters of several of the bridge’s 118- meter-long steel “strings” as Israel Police officers watched from the ground. They arrived at around 7 a.m. and were hanging in midair in harnesses with large bags attached. They were still there at 4 p.m.

Although many observers thought they were municipal workers doing maintenance on the cables, the Jerusalem Police spokesman told The Jerusalem Post that they were in fact demonstrators from the Greenpeace organization, using the high-wire act to protest plans to build a coal-fired power plant in Ashkelon.

The police spokesman said the intrepid demonstrators did not have approval for their act of protest, during which they hung a sign reading, “Bibi, Stop the Coal Power Station.”

The police were waiting until they came down.

“We are not going to go up after them,” he said, “but when they come down, we will arrest them.”

According to the police, this is not the first time that protesters have climbed up the cables to make a point.

The Jerusalem Municipality told the Post that it was “absolutely forbidden” – not to mention extremely dangerous – for anybody to climb up the cables and that the police would deal with the violators.

The Greenpeace activists did not seem to mind the cold temperatures and occasional drizzles during the day; it was not clear what they did about food and toilet breaks.