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Desert council again seeking to build amphitheater in Ramon Crater

Mitzpe Ramon Council issues new tender for project in popular stargazing area, despite past opposition from green groups, nature authority and ministries

A proposed site for an amphitheater in the Negev's Ramon Crater, next to the Selina firm's glamping site. (Courtesy, Lev Hamidbar)
A proposed site for an amphitheater in the Negev's Ramon Crater, next to the Selina firm's glamping site. (Courtesy, Lev Hamidbar)

The Mitzpe Ramon Council in southern Israel has again published a tender to build an amphitheater in the middle of a desert nature reserve, despite past opposition from green groups, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA), the Environmental Protection Ministry and Tourism Ministry

The plan calls for a facility that will hold 10 shows for the public each year on nights with a full moon, and a further four events for the council.

Critics have said the light, noise and dirt from shows will disturb and harm local wildlife.

The council wants temporary stages to be set up on a 15-dunam (3.7 acres) area of former gypsum quarries, close to the Selina company’s glamping (glamorous camping) site, west of Highway 40. The area is surrounded by a nature reserve.

Some 1,500 people will be allowed into each show, including artists, technicians and production personnel.

Shows on full-moon nights would hurt star-gazing, which draws thousands to that part of the desert, particularly during the summer, due to low light pollution.

Last October, Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov ordered that the amphitheater plan be frozen until the subject could be reviewed. He was backed by then-INPA director Shaul Goldstein.

The Tourism Ministry and Mitzpe Ramon Council did not respond to The Times of Israel by press time. The INPA said it would review the issue again.

The Environmental Protection Ministry said that, in general, it favored avoiding noise and light pollution in the area, but would study the tender details.

Guardians of the Crater, a not-for-profit organization, said the tender was “nothing less than a spit in the face of thousands of concerned citizens who signed onto a petition against erecting an amphitheater.”

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