Beer Sheva Magistrates Court Judge Israel Akselrad has upheld the administrative demolition order by the Southern District Committee against the owners of the Dolphin Reef in Eilat. The owners include Minister of Pensioner Affairs Rafi Eitan, Roni Zilber who manages the site, and others. The court also ruled that the demolition work should be implemented within 90 days under the supervision of the Nature and Parks Authority, which is responsible for the Gulf of Eilat. If the Dolphin Reef's owners do not prevent the demolition, then the dolphins are expected to be flown to another country.
The story began at the end of the 1980s, when Eitan and a group of additional entrepreneurs received permission from Eilat Port to set up the Dolphin Reef. Over the years the site has become a highly popular tourist attraction, but even so the owners never bothered to request a building permit. Several years ago the State filed a criminal suit against the entrepreneurs, including Eitan, for unlawful construction. However, the suit was cancelled after assurances that the matter would be sorted out.
During 2007, the Nature and Parks Authority inspectors observed that new works were being implemented on the site including a new 375 meter wooden jetty. After diving into the sea, a 3,750 meter net was found, that was causing bad damage to the coral growing on the old net.
The Dolphin Reef's owners claimed that the work had been implemented after they were forced to change the existing net which was designed to protect the dolphins and the coral. The Authority's inspectors counter claimed that the works were causing major destruction. During March 2008 the Regional Committee issued an order to cease the work.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 9, 2008
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