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Protesters object to planned uprooting of 400 trees in southwest Jerusalem

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

Thursday is the last day for objections to be filed with the Agriculture Ministry’s Forestry Supervisor against plans to fell more than 400 trees near the Handak Spring, in the vicinity of the Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in southwest Jerusalem, protesters say.

The plan is being promoted by the Even Sapir moshav in order to expand its agricultural land.

Opponents say it will damage a beautiful area, popular with hikers, and harm flora and fauna, including deer, whose mobility will be restricted by new fencing. Use of fertilizers and other chemicals will also threaten water sources, they charge.

View of Even Sapir and the forest that surrounds it on the outskirts of Jerusalem, October 23, 2013. (Flash90)

Ron Havilio, a leading campaigner against development in the picturesque and historic Ein Kerem area, noted in his objection that the location includes ancient agricultural terraces that should be preserved.

One of the terraces, unique in Israel, was built out of such huge stones that it is thought to date back to Roman times.

Earthworks have already begun on the site and some trees have been cut down.

According to the Haaretz newspaper, the chairman of the Even Sapir moshav’s committee, Hezi Issachar, is declining to comment.

The area around the Handak Spring forms part of the so-called Springs Trail, starting from Moshav Even Sapir — a water-themed hike that is highly popular with residents of Jerusalem and the surrounding area.

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