04/04/2012 02:54
The Environment Ministry accused a Kfar Nahum restaurant of leaking large amounts of raw sewage into the lake.

The Environmental Protection Ministry has accused the Capernaum restaurant in Kfar Nahum of leaking copious amounts of raw sewage through a concealed pipe system into the northern part of Lake Kinneret, a charge the owners strongly deny.

In an accusation letter directed to the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court, attorney Yona Shamir wrote in detail about several different incidents in which Environmental Protection Ministry and Israel Nature and Parks Authority inspectors tested the levels of fecal chloroform in the water near the restaurant and found them to be incredibly high. The Kinneret, the complaint said, is one of the three primary sources of water for Israel, and since the opening of the National Water Carrier in 1964 has fulfilled about one quarter of the country’s needs. The letter therefore requests that the defendants, Ali Oda and his son, Ahmed Oda, be convicted and that their business be closed.

“Not only does this happen to be an important source of water, the Kinneret also is a site for tourism and vacation, fishing and a human and religious cradle of culture,” the letter continues.

Kfar Nahum, an ancient fishing village located on the northern shore of the Kinneret, is very popular among touring Christian pilgrims as it was called Jesus Christ’s “own town” in the New Testament’s Book of Matthew.

As far as the random tests go, the inspectors found 130 million units of fecal chloroform bacteria in the area on December 28, 2010, 650,000 times the standard amount of 200. On April 3, 2011, they found 160 million units of fecal chloroform, 800,000 times more than the acceptable norm.

The most recent test, on February 26, 2012, revealed 13 million units of fecal chloroform, 65,000 times more than the norm.

The Magistrate’s Court has ordered that all parties gather for a hearing on Wednesday, according to Elan Zamler, an attorney in the Environmental Protection Ministry’s legal department.

“This is one of the most serious cases of coastal environmental damage that the Kinneret has encountered thus far,” Zamler said in a written brief about the charges.

The restaurants has been running its raw sewage directly into the lake “through a system of secret pipes that are concealed and hidden,” and even after having been caught, the owners continued this procedure, Zamler added.

In response, Ali Oda told The Jerusalem Post over the phone on Tuesday that the accusations are “all a lie.”

“There was no sewage in the Kinneret. I live on the Kinneret, I drink from the Kinneret,” he said. “I love the Kinneret.”

Oda said that his restaurant produces about two cubic meters of sewage per day, all of which is transferred to the central sewage collection station in Rosh Pina – and not into the Kinneret. Charging that the Israel Nature and Parks Authority just wants to take away his land for their own use, he said that conflicts with this authority have been going on for 15 years.

“They come in here every five minutes just to disturb us,” Oda said.

Promising that he “never did this” and that the accusations were entirely wrong, he added, “I take care of the Kinneret better than they do.”