The latest on the field next to Kfar Hayarok – where property developers are building a mammoth new ‘luxury’ neighbourhood called Neve Gan Tzafon.
Back in May this year I wrote an impassioned blog post when the bulldozers and diggers came in to destroy a field near my home. This place, which I call ‘the final field’ of Tel Aviv, was home to wildlife, birds, and rare flowers. Now it’s become a huge, dusty building site. A disaster for the environment, it’s been closed-off to the public, to make way for the new Ramat Hasharon neighbourhood called Neve Gan Tzafon.
This site was also where local school children, including my own, would go on class trips to experience some real nature and wilderness. It provided some much-needed peace and quiet in the increasingly-loud and polluted Gush Dan region.
So what’s the status of the site now? Well, in some ways not much has happened since May. The building work has not started. A few giant pipes were laid. But in other ways, much has happened. The wildlife has left. The field has become more of a barren desert. Many trees were gradually torn down, though the important pecan tree outcrop remains. And interestingly, while the constructors were digging, the Israel Antiquities Authority uncovered some ancient Byzantine ruins here.
Yes, archaeologists uncovered a large winepress, a gold coin, and a network of mosaics, said to be dating from 1,500 years ago! So it appears this field was not only a haven for wildlife but also an important archaeological site. Parts of the construction site are now closed-off for excavations. However, the building of 3,100 housing units set in some ugly new towers is still set to go ahead.
Is anybody even trying to stop it? I couldn’t find any protest movement. But I did find out that across the Ayalon Highway, a similar project was also stopped. Yes, in Ramat Aviv Gimmel a diverse natural area with pleasant eucalyptus trees and the Afeka caves was saved by residents. This beautiful area, now called Ecopark Glilot, is a rare triumph for Israeli environmentalists. Could they do the same here? Well, it looks like our work is cut out – multiple property developers and the Ramat Aviv Municipality are backing this massive project.
Indeed, all over Gush Dan you’ll see construction instead of conservation. Or nadlan over nature (nadlan means real estate).
Although I understand housing is important, I can’t help but think that one day we’ll regret not having any real green space in Gush Dan. And I don’t mean man-made parks, but real wilderness, as nature intended. Even cities such as London have large natural areas like Hampstead Heath or Hackney Marshes. These areas are like the lungs of the city. Yet on the outskirts of Tel Aviv these lungs are being ripped out and replaced by luxury towers, not in tune with their surroundings.
Ironically, the only hope of stopping this new building site comes from an ancient Byzantine site. To be continued…