Photo Credit: Flash 90
Israel Railways train.

The Southern District Planning and Building Committee has rejected a request from Shikma Park to investigate route alternatives for a railway route intended to travel from Gaza to Be’er Sheva and Ashkelon.

Instead, the committee approved Chapters C – E of the environmental impact survey, subject to addressing issues relating to the storage of hazardous material in the cargo terminal.

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The Committee filed the plans subject to:
1. Updating in accordance with the comments of the Ministry of the Environment.
2. Approval of the Committee for the Preservation of Agricultural Land and Open Areas.
3. Completion of coordination with the Ministry of Defense.
4. Addition of plans to preserve historic bridges.
5. Addition of instructions for the handling of the area of the cancelled rail.
6. Updating the plan in accordance with the remarks of the Planning Office.

Once the above tasks are completed, the final plan is to be published for public comment.

The plan includes the erection of a passenger terminal at the Erez Crossing as well as a cargo terminal for the movement of cargo between Gaza and Israel and in the future for the export of goods from Gaza to the rest of the world.

“Implementation of the double rail, which comes off of the Ashkelon-Be’er Sheva line, would dramatically reduce the cost of transporting cargo that is now trucked to and from Gaza,” Dr. Aaron Lerner of the Independent Media Review Analysis (IMRA) points out. “It would also serve to relieve the heavy truck congestion on Negev roads currently serving Gaza.”

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