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Green Groups: Israeli Fence ‘Ruins Landscape’

Environmental groups have asked the Defense Ministry to reconsider the construction of a new fence along the southern end of Israel’s border with Egypt, saying it would cause irreversible damage to the region’s unique landscape.

On Wednesday, Israel Nature and Parks Authority director Shaul Goldstein and defense officials will visit the route – which stretches some 12 kilometers northwest of Eilat from the Red Sea shore to Ein Netafim – in a bid to find an alternative that would minimize the damage. “Up until now, we had full cooperation with them and they’re willing to listen,” Goldstein said, referring to the defense officials.

The planned fence, whose construction is due to start imminently, will cut across the Gishron River, one of the region’s gems of nature. According to the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, “it will level a 10-meter-wide stretch amid spiring mountaintops and unspoiled landscape. Paving and infrastructure works along the mountainous route would require heavy equipment.”

The group says the area’s unique geological and zoological phenomena will be irrevocably affected. The region draws some 200,000 visitors during the year, especially during the winter.

The activists urged the Defense Ministry to “reign in the bulldozer race” and consider electronic surveillance systems, which they also suggested for the security fence that has yet to be built in the Judean Desert region in the southern part of the West Bank.

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