First-of-its-kind cooperation will see West Bank city of Jenin, Gilboa Regional Council join forces to save Kishon River
Common ground: Israel and the Palestinian Authority have launched a unique, joint ecological venture – a first-of-its-kind eco-park.
The park will be the product of collaboration between the West Bank city of Jenin and the Gilboa Regional Council, which have joined forces to rehabilitate the Kishon River.
The Kishon River is a 70km-long perennial stream, flowing down from the Gilboa Mountains. It is considered to be one of the most polluted rivers in Israel and has been the subject of controversy regarding the struggle to improve the water quality.
Israeli and Palestinian teams, headed by Gilboa Council Head Daniel Atar and Jenin Governor Moussa Qadoura, have already begun work on the future Kishon eco-park.
The initiative stemmed from the two communities’ recognition of joint environmental problems and should it prove successful, it stands to be the first in a series of joint Israeli-Palestinian environmental ventures between the two.
The rehabilitation project will span three kilometers on each side of the security fence.
The Gilboa Council and Jenin enjoy good neighborly relations, enabling both to promote various projects to boost the local economy.
“This project brings together two of the Council’s main values – regional peace and the environment,” Atar explained. “We are planning public parks on both sides of the fence in hopes that one day they will become one.”
Nader al-Khateeb, general director of the Palestinian Water and Environmental Development Organization (WEDO) added: “The environment and water do not recognize borders, militaries and fences. They should be a bridge for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”
Below are statements from Canada’s Federal Leaders wishing everybody a Hanukkah Sameach (happy Hanukkah)!
Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement to mark Chanukah:
“More than two thousand years ago, a small group of Jewish believers overcame the odds and courageously defeated and repelled their oppressors, liberating Jerusalem and reclaiming the Holy Temple as their own. As they rededicated the Temple, a second miracle occurred: a small amount of oil that should have lasted one night instead burned for eight. Since that time, Jewish people around the world celebrate the holy tradition of Chanukah, the yearly eight-day Festival of Light, in commemoration of those miracles.
“Born out of the triumph of light over darkness, of freedom over oppression and of tolerance over persecution, this celebration reminds us that miracles can occur even in the darkest of moments, and that justice must always overcome tyranny. Chanukah also reminds us that, here in Canada, we are truly blessed to live in a free, just and tolerant society, one which has been enriched by the innumerable contributions and achievements of the Jewish-Canadian community.
“On this first night of Chanukah, Laureen and I extend our most heartfelt greetings and wishes of hope and peace to families and friends in communities across Canada and around the world who tonight light their Chanukah menorahs.”
TORONTO– Liberal Leader Bob Rae made the following statement today on Hanukkah:
“On the first day of Hanukkah, Jewish families in Canada and around the world will gather to light the menorah and celebrate with their loved ones.
The Hanukkah story is one of perseverance and great resilience, a story of hope and triumph against oppression. The Hanukkah candles help us all remember the universal desire for the right to celebrate and express our own beliefs.
Canada is home to a strong and vibrant Jewish community that will tonight be celebrating with the lighting of the first candle. On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada and our parliamentary caucus: Happy Hanukkah. Chag sameach.”
On behalf of New Democrats across Canada I wish you a Hanukkah filled with joy and hope for a bright future.
The next eight nights are a time for remembering the blessings that we have and the accomplishments of those who came before us. It is a time to remind ourselves of challenges to overcome, to reflect on the beliefs we hold dear, and to re-affirm our commitment to a better world for everyone.
Spending time with loved ones over this holiday season is one of the greatest gifts that the Festival of Lights affords us. May you cherish these moments together, and create precious memories for years to come.
Again, I extend my best wishes to you and yours. May this be the beginning of a Happy Hanukkah!
Click here to watch Elizabeth May’s video wishing everybody a happy holiday season.
The number of people using Tel Aviv’s bicycle rental service is greater than anticipated and the rate of vandalism is much lower than expected, said Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai at a press conference on Tuesday, where he pronounced the program, inaugurated seven months ago, a success.
Some 13,000 people have purchased an annual subscription to the service, which costs NIS 240 for city residents and NIS 280 for non-residents.
Every day, about 5,500 bikes are rented at the city’s 141 rental stations, about half of which are in the city center.
The city announced on Tuesday that it was going to offer daily and weekly subscriptions, which would serve mainly tourists, at a cost of NIS 16 and NIS 60 respectively.
People will be able to use their credit card to purchase the daily and weekly subscriptions at the rental stations, whereas annual subscribers have to purchase an electronic chip either at the municipality or on the website of the bike provider, Tel Ofan.
Compared to other cities worldwide the cost of bike rental in Tel Aviv is not the highest, but is also certainly not the lowest; the weekly rental cost is relatively high. In London, a 24-hour rental costs the equivalent of NIS 5.90, but in Washington D.C. it costs the equivalent of NIS 26.50.
The director general of the Tel Aviv Economic Development Authority, Sharon Keren, said that demand had been high for daily rentals over the past two weeks’ pilot program. He said the delay in offering daily and weekly rental options had been due to technical difficulties in the rental system. “Daily subscribers are much more sensitive to problems than yearly subscribers. You come once, and if it doesn’t work, it’s a 100-percent failure. But for an annual subscriber, a problem [with the rental system] once in two weeks is not the end of the world,” he said.
Keren said they wanted to open 50 more rental stations in more outlying neighborhoods and focuses of high demand, such as the courthouse area, Florentine and the beach promenade.
Another possibility under discussion is free parking for Tel Ofan subscribers at the Ganei Yehoshua and nearby parking lots, encouraging commuters to leave their cars at the city’s outskirts.
The Tel Aviv Economic Development Authority is in talks with the municipalities of Ramat Gan and Herzliya to expand the project to those cities. The municipality of Givatayim is moving ahead on a separate project to rent electric bikes.
The Environmental Protection Ministry is unveiling on Sunday Israel’s first comprehensive, multi-year national plan for preventing and reducing air pollution, which will save the country half a billion shekels each year, according to the ministry.
The plan, which is two years in the making and involved experts all over Israel and the world, comes under the jurisdiction of the Clean Air Act, and will be voted upon by the cabinet in a few weeks, a ministry statement said.
Due to the fact that Israel’s population as well as transportation and industrial activities have grown so tremendously in the recent past, experts have predicted that the health effects of air pollution will cause hundreds of deaths and thousands of hospitalization cases in the coming years.Therefore, by implementing a new national program, the ministry predicted that the government will end up around saving NIS 500 million each year in treatment costs associated with morbidity and mortality from the pollution.
“Implementation of this program, which is made obligatory under the Clean Air Act, will provide an answer to the most serious environmental problem in Israel that is causing deaths of hundreds of people each year,” said Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan in a statement, noting that such plans have been adopted in most other Western countries years ago.
“Israel, which has become the most densely populated Western state in the world, must urgently implement the plan prepared by us in order to not reach serious levels of air pollution that exist in countries like China.”
At the current rate of growth in population and consequent air pollution, resultant health damages are expected to cost the economy NIS 7.8 billion per year by 2015 and NIS 8.5 billion per year by 2020, according to the ministry.
In the transportation sector, some examples of new policies to be implemented include an expansion of the vehicle scrapping program, as well as an increase in the amount paid for each vehicle; economic incentives for multi-passenger vehicles on tolled roads and hybrid taxis; and legislation to encourage companies to purchase less polluting buses. Along this line, the plan would introduce a pilot program in which three buses powered by natural gas are introduced into the Israeli transportation system.
Meanwhile, the program would also provide NIS 60 million in grants to companies to discourage their employees from using private vehicles.
In households, the new plan would encourage people to operate appliances at night, at a cheaper rate, when the overall electricity system is less stressed, as well as apply varying electricity rates depending on the volume of consumption and consumption hours.
Also critical to the plan would be updated standards for sulfur dioxide emissions as well as new regulations on reducing respirable particles from mines. The program would allocate tens of millions of shekels to expanding air pollution monitoring coverage on national lands, and would also mandate that the future Ashkelon power station be powered only on natural gas, rather than with coal as well, the ministry said.
Israel’s infamous “garbage mountain” shone on the silver screen on Thursday, when a two-minute short film on its transformation from dump to destination took home first place at a ceremony in Durban, South Africa.
The film, called The Hiriya Project: A Mountain of Change and produced by Eitan Dotan, won first place in the Clean Development Mechanism Changing Lives Photo and VideoContest 2011, which was part of this year’s United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) currently taking place in Durban.
Narrated in a child’s voice, in English, the animated movie goes through the birth, demise and remake of the Hiriya landfill, highlighting the dangers posed by the overwhelming amount of garbage there. It also presented the recycling facilities and park that sprawl above the trash and methane gases today. Dotan created “Mountain of Change” on behalf of the Hiriya Recycling Park and Dan Region Association of Towns.
Winning the video category’s second and third places were films on, respectively, a program about geothermal energy on Lihir Island in Papua New Guinea, and the recovery from the Al-Shaheen oil field fire in Qatar.
Among the top three photographs were images of the Egyptian Brick Factory, in which brick kilns were converted from burning heavy oil to natural gas; a Chinese biomass power-generation project; and the Fujian Jinjiang LNG Power Generation Project, which is also located in China. The winners were announced at a ceremony hosted by UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres.
“It’s really great what is happening here,” the young male narrator of the Israeli film begins, as a sign for 1953 appears on the screen.
“Once, this whole area was flat. Then all the garbage from the center of the country began to be dumped here. More garbage… and more garbage.”
On the screen, sketched gobs of lime green garbage appeared next to photographs of the real trash that had begun piling up 60 meters high.
Mid East Green building projects like those in Abu Dhabi’s much publicized Masdar City, green building construction plans for Saudi Arabia, and a newly completed green building in Amman Jordan are indications that a number of countries in this region are interested in making commercial and residential buildings more environmental friendly. This also holds true for Israel with an “eco tower” now being built in Tel Aviv, and what is being touted as the country’s first green shopping mall now under construction in the coastal city of Netanya.
Ir Yamim Mall skylights
The Netanya mall, known as the Ir Yamim (Sea City) Shopping Mall is nearing completion in the city’s new upscale Ir Yamim residential neighborhood.
The 80,000 sq meter building, scheduled to open its mid March, 2012, is being built with special glass “sky lights” in the upper floors to let it utilize natural lighting during the daytime.
The AC system will be more energy saving and the water from condensation from its cooling coils will be used for irrigating the lawns and gardens that will surround the mall. Rain water during the winter rainy season will also be collected in special pools for use in watering the greenery around the building as well.
Mall food court area: LED and special florescent lighting
Under construction since early 2009, the mall will have more than 100 stores and food vendors and will include special areas for people to park bicycles and other green vehicles like electric powered carts and scooters.
In addition to the natural light sky-lighting in its two upper floors the building will feature energy saving LED and florescent lighting that have not been previously used in shopping malls in Israel due to either not being available or their high costs.
“We thought about using solar panels to provide electricity, but came to the conclusion that presently solar panels are not advanced enough yet” says Liora Renat-Engle, who, along with Gabi Gal are the two project architects with the Moore Yasky Sivan (MYS) architectural company that is involved in designing the mall’s unique features, including landscaping around the mall.
MYS’s Rinat-Engel also noted the special water saving landscaping around the mall:
”We are landscaping this mall with 25 dunam of special greenery that does not require large amounts of water. This includes planting trees like palm, carob, tamarask and sycamore. These trees need less water than other species. In other words, our aim is to provide ample greenery for the mall and use less water.”
“We have learned a lot from other shopping mall building projects regarding the need to build more ecological friendly buildings. This idea is also being taken into account when designing other projects, especially ones the Neot Midbar mall being built in water scarce locations like the Negev desert city of Beersheva”.