Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

10 Ellul 5761 - August 29, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Observations: Manhattan is Already Here
by P. Yedid

No one has visited the Tel Aviv of the year 2015, but the first Hebrew city will look something like this: along the east side will be a row of hotels and to the west, far into the blue seas, impressive skyscrapers will jut up.

According to plans, artificial islands will spring up off the coast of Tel Aviv in another few years that could connect via a series of bridges to form a new city right in the middle of what is today open water. These islands are expected to become some of the most prestigious areas of the country and will have luxury hotels, shopping centers and Manhattan-style apartment buildings.

An Israeli-Dutch team has been assigned to the project, and in recent years initial proposals for implementing the idea have already been finalized. The government, headed by Ariel Sharon, has hailed the initiative, and is encouraging those involved in the project "to continue to gather data to create the planning infrastructure needed to build artificial islands."

The first island planned will be rectangular with a length of three kilometers and a width of 800 meters. It is slated for construction about two kilometers off the coast of Tel Aviv. Israel's second international airport will be constructed on the island. According to the plans, the airport will eventually handle 30 million passengers per year and will replace Sdeh Dov, Tel Aviv's local airport.

Another island, to be shaped like a drop of water, will be built off the coast of Bat Yam, and the committee is also recommending that at least three islands should be built off of Ga'ash Beach.

The report written by the planning team says, "A preliminary feasibility study shows that there is an ecological, technological and legal possibility and financial viability in terms of property values, in building islands off the coast of Israel." The project would require a tremendous investment of billions of dollars and would take at least 15 years to complete.

The road to implementing the plans is paved with technical obstacles. Bate, the head of the joint island planning team says, "It remains uncertain whether we have all of the filling material needed to build these islands, and we are still just starting out."

The City of Tel Aviv is skeptical regarding the project. City Engineer Dani Kaiser maintains that "in the foreseeable future this does not look realistic." The real reason for creating new cities in the middle of the sea is the lack of land in the State of Israel. An analysis of the amount of land available for residential and commercial buildings in metropolitan Tel Aviv shows that land reserves will only last for another 25 years, and the forecasts for 2025 are not particularly encouraging, therefore justifying the project off the coast of Tel Aviv.

Israel is not the first country in the world to turn to the sea in order to provide land. In Japan, Miami and Hong Kong long rows of artificial islands have been built. In practical terms, building such islands means sinking dry land into the sea and then wooden piles are supposed to hold the new creation in place. The problem is in dealing with the risk of sinking.

What do green organizations have to say? As expected they are strongly opposed to the initiative. They claim the already narrow strips of coastline in the State of Israel would be further reduced as a result of the extensive use of sand to build the project, but the Committee promises that the opposite is the case: artificial islands will save the coastlines, and the Committee will do everything in its power to find filling materials other than coastal sand, which is being depleted at an alarming rate.


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