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August 29, 2014 / 3 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Dead Sea’

Negev Loses Airport Night Trains

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Residents of southern Israel – particularly those living in the periphery communities in the Negev – will no longer have the option of taking the train to and from the airport after 11:00 p.m.

A spokesperson for Israel Railways told The Jewish Press on Thursday morning the service just didn’t pay for itself. “The government and the railway company made the decision together,” said the spokesperson, who added the figures totaled only an average of five or six riders per night on the line. “It wasn’t cost effective.”

Instead, it was decided the Metropoline Bus Service will take over the route, she said. Bus #469 will begin at the Arlozorov station in Tel Aviv and then make a stop at the airport, travel to Kiryat Gat and then go to the central bus station in Be’er Sheva.

That’s a solution for folks who live in the city of Be’er Sheva itself, perhaps – but what about those who live in the small periphery towns where bus service doesn’t exist overnight?

“Tough luck, baby,” said one consumer. “We’re stuck with paying hundreds of shekels for travel after 11 pm, just like we always have – and that after first spending hours traveling to the other cities just to get a little closer. Instead of paying NIS 600 to get home, I end up paying NIS 300 from Be’er Sheva, but spend three more hours after a 12-hour flight and another hour or more in baggage claims. Forget it.”

The Negev region comprises 60 percent of the nation’s land mass – but its travel network has yet to be developed to the point that even half of its communities have any access to railway service at all.

When asked why there is still no railway branch route to Arad, for example — while Dimona, a city of similar size and population, has had one for several years – the spokesperson for Israel Railways could not find a reason. Arad, a ‘clean air’ resort town located about 45 minutes east of Be’er Sheva and 25 minutes west of the Dead Sea, is in the midst of a major development boom due to the expansion of Route 31, which runs between the two points.

The Nevatim air base is located near Route 31 – described in Hebrew media as ‘death road’ due to the high number of motor vehicle fatalities that have occurred along the highway — as is the Nahal army base at Tel Arad.

Unexpected Downpour Swells Lake Kinneret, Creates Havoc in Israel

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

The sun peeked out just long enough Thursday afternoon for Israelis to see the flooding caused by the “sound and light show” they endured over Wednesday night.

Cracks of thunder and long streaks of lightning interspersed with the downpour that sent sheets of rain down through the skies over Israel, drenching the entire country.

Downpours at this time of year are unusual but not unheard of, meteorologist said. By mid-afternoon Thursday, the skies in southern Israel were once again filled with leaden clouds that appeared once more to be pregnant with rain. It was not clear whether in fact more precipitation was on the way; the forecast calls for the possibility for rain, continuing even into as Friday morning.

Rain is considered a blessing in this part of the world no matter when it arrives. There has been a 2.5-centimeter (one inch) rise in the water level of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) as a result of the record-breaking downpour.

But some may have seen it as a mixed blessing: Fifteen members of the Bnei Akiva youth group were trapped in a southern Israeli parking lot due to the flooding. They were rescued by special teams and evacuated from the scene by helicopter. IDF vehicles prepared to enter the area to help evacuate remaining hikers who had been touring in the area.

Bezeq phone lines were still down around the Dead Sea area at midday and service was sporadic at best.

Cell phone companies were scrambling to restore service in the central region. In the Jerusalem area, Cellcom customers reported all kinds of difficulties in placing their calls and in sending text messages Thursday afternoon.

The company had not formulated a response to the complaints by mid-afternoon.

Further south, near Eilat, Route 90 was still closed to traffic by late afternoon due to flash flooding that swamped the road after a night of thunder and lightning that swept Israel from north to south. Route 31, which had been closed earlier in the day, is now open.

Thunderstorms Strike Israel

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

The blessing for rain may have been left behind for the winter season, but the Heavens re-opened on Wednesday night anyway with additional blessings for the Land of Israel.

The entire country was hit and the rainstorms that began overnight are carrying on through Thursday and expected to continue possibly into Friday. Storms of this intensity are unusual in Israel in May, but not unheard of.

Communities in Gush Etzion were left without power overnight. Main highways were shut down due to flooding around the Dead Sea and in the northeastern Negev city of Arad at least one home was flooded due to cracks in a ceiling where the roof gave way.

There were also reports of numerous Bezeq telephone lines being knocked out at the southern end of the Dead Sea, in the Ein Bokek area, due to flooding in the region.

Israeli rescue teams are warning the public about the dangers of trying to cross flooded terrain across the country. Even if the flow of the waters appears to be weak, warned officials, there is simply no way to measure the water’s depth and strength.

Waves can be intense and suddenly rise to flip a car over, officials explained. Floods also loosen rocks, which can easily trap a car within the flow of the water. If a driver encounters a flood while driving, he or she is advised to wait until the rush of the water has stopped entirely before continuing to drive. Failing that option, turn around and head back. Better safe than sorry, in all cases.

Anyone who requires assistance is advised to dial 100, the Israel Police.

Due to the flooding, Route 90 is still closed to traffic in both directions from the Dergot Peaks to the hotel strip at Ein Bokek. The same road has been shut down at the northern end of the Dead Sea up to the Arava Junction as well. Traffic police are deployed at both locations to head off unwary travelers.

In addition, Route 31 heading down to the Dead Sea has also been closed.

German Grandmother Celebrates 104th Birthday by Dead Sea

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

German tourist, Eleonore Kastner, affectionately known as Oma Ella, celebrated her 104th birthday in a Dead Sea hotel with 40 friends and family who traveled with her to Israel for the special event.

Since she turned 100 four years ago, Oma Ella had decided that the time had come to “live a little.” She has been celebrating her birthday each year in a different corner of the world together with her family. For her 100th birthday, Kastner celebrated at the Vatican.

During the following years, she marked 101 in Monaco, 102 in Austria and 103 in Munich.

Kastner, a devout Christian, has visited and prayed at Christian holy sites in the Holy Land, even traveling on a donkey to reach an isolated monastery in the Judean desert.

Kastner, who was born in 1910 in Kelheim, Germany, has accomplished some ground-breaking feats in her older age. She is thought to be the oldest person to tour the Himalayas and meet with the Queen of Bhutan, and is the oldest member of the Eurovision Club that travels to every song competition.

In addition, the German grandmother is considered to be the oldest person to have a Facebook page which she has already updated since arriving in Israel with a video greeting. She also appears in YouTube videos celebrating with youth at beer festivals in Germany, enjoying fairground rides and dancing to contemporary music.

And her secret for longevity? “Be healthy and enjoy a sweet schnapps every day!” is Kastner’s motto.

After she married in 1932, Kastner moved to Amberg, Bavaria where she raised four children, only one of whom is still alive. Her elder brother, who was born in 1906, was murdered in the Dachau concentration camp in 1943 after resisting the Nazi occupation.

During her visit to Israel, the Tourism Ministry presented Kastner with a birthday present: a silver-bound Bible along with a certificate of appreciation, nominating her as an ambassador of good will for tourism to Israel.

Another Deluge of Rain on the Way but No Snow Except on Hermon

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

The second storm of the young winter is headed for Israel with more needed rain but no snow, except on the Hermon mountain.

Forecasters predict that it will rain on Eilat, an event that usually occurs only two or three times a year, and that up to three inches of rain will fall in the north and central regions.

Flash floods are predicted in the Arava and Dead Sea areas, which may receive an unusually large quantity of rain, possibly an inch.

The rain will follow deceivingly warmer than usual weather on Friday and will begin falling with the temperature Saturday afternoon, with the full force of the storm coming on Sunday and early Monday before weakening. No rain is forecast next week after Tuesday and temperatures will rise.

The Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) now lacks 2.49 meters (slightly more than 8 feet) before reaching the level where the Degania dam must be opened to prevent flooding in the beachside city of Tiberias. Opening the dam also will bring much needed water to the Dead Sea via the Jordan River.

There has  been no need to open the dam for 21 years.

Dead Sea Works Sends 100 Tons of Salt to Jerusalem

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

In an effort to help reopen the roads in and around Jerusalem, the Dead Sea Works sent 100 tons of Dead Sea salt to Jerusalem yesterday, to spread on the roads, according to a report in The Marker.

No word yet on whether they included a complementary package of Dead Sea mud, or Ahava skin cream in their care package.

But, at least someone is thinking.

Is Israel Hiding Water for Fat Cats’ Red-Dead Sea Pipeline?

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Politicians were falling all over themselves Monday to celebrate the signing in Washington of the agreement for what once was a pipe dream of a pipeline to pump water from the Red Sea to the Dead Seam, with the New Age of Peace involving Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

“This is a historic measure, which realizes a dream of many years. We have here politically important strategic cooperation between that Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority,” said Minister National Infrastructures Silvan Shalom.

The first phase of the mammoth project will include a desalination plant in Aqaba and will pipe water into the Dead Sea, the lowest point of earth and which has gone lower every year to the point that there are real fears it will disappear altogether one day.

The idea sounds great, and if it comes off without a hitch, it definitely will change the face of the southern Negev and Arava regions and the Jordan Valley, on both sides of the Jordan River.

The Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Israel all are holding hands together in a project that is supposed to show that the need for water can overcome politics and distrust.

The agreement for what is officially known as the Two Seas Project was signed in Washington by Shalom and Jordanian and Palestinian Authority water officials. The ceremony took place at the World Bank, which is raising up to $400 million from donor countries and philanthropists.

The entire bill for a much larger Dead-Red conveyance project is around $10 billion.

This is the same World Bank that helped finance and engineer Israel’s turning over agricultural infrastructure and greenhouses in Gaza to the Palestinian Authority regime in 2005, after the expulsion of Jews and the withdrawal of the IDF.

That boondoggle does not mean that the World Bank is always right, but it certainly means it is not always right. It is more interested in politics than economics, and good politics today means creating facts on the ground for the Great Middle East Peace.

In five years, water is supposed to start flowing into the Dead Sea, but the proposed amount is only a fraction of what the Dead Sea loses every year because evaporation and industrial use, such as the Dead Sea Works.

The project will give Jordan much needed water resources. Israel has agreed to pump more water from the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) for Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, which is Ramallah’s take for agreeing to forfeit claims that the northern part of the Dead Sea is to be under its sovereignty in its version of a Palestinian country.

So what could be wrong with such a project that increases the water supply and brings back the Dead Sea from levels that could endanger the environment?

Politically, like everything else in the Middle East, it is a gamble. Jordan is on the threshold of an explosion. “Palestinians” and Bedouin make up the bulk of the population but are least represented in the government. The Palestinian Authority still is a country on paper, most of it being the Euros on which it survives.

Financially, the project puts a tremendous burden on the world, but who cares so long as the new corporate universe needs these investments to feed their money machines.

The military-industry complex has sold trillions of dollars in weapons everywhere except Antarctica. Russian and China don’t care whether Iran gets a nuclear bomb so long as they can feed their appetite for billions of dollars by helping the Islamic Republic build nuclear facilities.

And now we have this new project to pump money into the engineering and construction firms who stand to make a bundle.

Environmentally, the project’s expert claim they have the knowledge and resources to overcome fears that pumping large quantities of Red Sea water into the Dead Sea could damage the Dead Sea’s fragile ecology. As sure as the World Bank is that the project will not upset ecology, the Friends of the Dead Sea are just as sure that the pipeline will destroy the environment

Let’s assume that the World Bank experts are right, which is a hefty assumption in an age where experts can prove anything they want.

The whole project may be unnecessary given that Israel’s own desalination plants will produce so much water that the Kinneret would reach flood levels every year, allowing the dam at the Kinneret to be opened to spill water into the Jordan River and down to the Dead Sea.

The Kinneret right now is about 2.6 meters, or 102 inches, below flood level and when the Degania dam would be opened. The lake usually rises more than that amount in a normal year.

It could rise even more because Israel has brought online three desalination plants and is building two more that can supply Israel with almost 70 percent of its water needs.

But the Water Authority has made an amazing decision. It plans to scale back production of desalinated water by 100 million cubic meters, the same amount that will be able to be produced at the facility under construction at Ashdod.

Globes pointed out last month that the government pays for overhead at the desalination plants and also pays for water that it does not buy, as per the contract. The bottom line is that the Water Authority will shell out 60 percent of the cost of water for fixed costs without receiving any water.

And what happens if there are a couple of dry years? Then the Water Authority will start pushing the desalination plants to work overtime while the level of the Dead Sea continues to drop.

Even worse, the Water Authority admitted to Globes, “Even if the plants don’t work at full capacity in the coming year, we will soon definitely need their output. Our models predict an even worse drought than the one before 2011 at the end of the decade. In addition, the Kinneret and aquifers still lack one billion cubic meters of water. The Israeli economy has a structural water shortage, and one rainy year does create a new reality.”

So why is it cutting back production?

Could it possibly be that the Water Authority does not want to open the dam at the Kinneret because doing so would help replenish the Dead Sea, and then how could the Red-Dead Seas project be justified?

Bringing back the Dead Sea to previous levels might not be possible, but it will be at least five years before the Dead-Red pipeline comes on line, and that assumes no political, financial and environmental delays. In the meantime, maximum production at the desalination plants would allow overflow from the Kinneret to add at least the same amount that is projected to come from the Red-Dead pipeline, and probably more in a rainy year, as is predicted this year.

The Water Authority’s reasoning for increasing pumping from the Kinneret instead of using desalinated water, and thus preventing the dam from being opened, is that “it is cheaper to pump water from natural sources than to buy water from the desalination plant at the full rate.”

The Water Authority made a fantastic Orwellian Double Speak statement to Globes. “There is no water surplus,” it said. “There is water production capacity for guaranteeing a reliable water supply, even during droughts. The Israeli government prepared for this in part by building seawater desalination plants, which supply water on the basis of need and the condition of the water economy. During droughts, when natural water supplies fall, we’ll need maximum production by the desalination plants, because the water demand does not change. In years with heavy rain, we have to deduce desalinated water production, because the variable cost is higher than the cost of natural water production.”

The Water Authority is ”saving” money by paying out most of the cost of desalinated water without using it, and it is lessening the need for the dam to be opened, which in turn deprives Jordan of water resources and deprives the Dead Sea of much needed water.

There is no water surplus because the Water Authority is preventing one.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/is-israeli-hiding-water-for-fat-cats-red-dead-sea-pipeline/2013/12/09/

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