Israelis will soon be able to travel to Eilat by train, after the National Building Commission approved construction of a section of the line south of Be'er Sheva. The section, 60 kilometers long, is mired in controversy, with large numbers of people voicing their opinion in favor or against construction of the line.
Construction of the line, which will extend for 260 kilometers, will take place in three stages, with the controversial 60 kilometer section to be built south of Dimona. Most of the opposition came from environmental groups, backed by the Environmental Ministry, who claimed that the line would cause a major disturbance in the fragile ecosystem of the Negev, where numerous endangered species roam. The groups offered alternative plans to construction of this section, but they were turned down by the Commission.
“Unfortunately, we will now have a high speed train that will be marketed very savvily, but in reality this will be a mega-destructive project that will turn the Negev and Arava desert into fields full of infrastructure, which will upset the environmental balance of the area,” the Society for the Protection of Nature said in a statement.