Environmental organizations file appeal to national council protesting approval of an industrial zone in the heart of the Ashdod sand dunes.

The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) and the Public Forum for the Environment in Ashdod jointly filed an appeal on Tuesday to the National Council for Planning and Building, protesting the approval of an industrial zone in the heart of the Ashdod sand dunes.

“This is an area with rare scenic and environmental qualities,” a statement from SPNI said. “We must preserve it and reject the plan.”

The appeal, filed by the organization’s legal adviser Hagit Helmer and Merav Meyron Gordon from Sapir College’s Law School, argues that the planned industrial area will disturb a rare environment that contains unique soil, vegetation and climate conditions.

“This area has been determined a coastal forest park worth preserving,” the appeal said.

The woods on these sands are rich with trees and other vegetation, including the remnants of orchards and sycamores that were dominant in the area in the past. While sycamores once heavily populated the southern coastal plain, the population of this tree disappeared almost entirely due to construction and development in the region, the organizations wrote.

The appeal then goes on to quote a segment of the Hebrew song “Garden of Sycamores,” which says, “Once upon a time there were sycamores here, sands around as well as a view.”

It is critical that the committee accept the appeal and reject the plan, or at least conduct a thorough environmental impact assessment of the land, including an examination of alternative locations for the project, the environmental organizations wrote.

“The heart of the appeal is the need to preserve a unique area of sands and protect it from the pressures of heavy development,” the groups wrote.

“In the southern portion of Ashdod we must wake up – there are sands and there is scenery. Establishing an industrial zone in the area stipulated by the plan will gravely hit one of the last remnants of the beachside forest park, which is a singularly unique cultural landscape, and one of the last vestiges of a fertile sand area on Israel’s coastal plain.”