TEL AVIV (Jul. 19)
The Yarkon-Negev pipeline–Israel’s greatest irrigation project which costs more than $30,000,000, most of which was supplied by the Jewish Agency from funds received from the United Jewish Appeal in the United States–was inaugurated here at an impressive ceremony attended by the leaders of the Israel Government, New York Governor W. Averill Harriman, representatives of 17 Jewish communities in the United States, and many Israel dignitaries. The pipeline is 66 miles long.
The event was marked by a colorful mass performance of the “Hymn to Water,” in which actors from all Israel theatres, assisted by choirs and dancing groups, participated. The festive ceremony took place at the source of the Yarkon River, near Rosh Hayin. The highpoint of the festivity was reached when Abraham Harzfeld, veteran Israel farmer who devoted most of his life to the development of Jewish agriculture in this country, was given the honor of pressing the button which activated the pumping stations and permitted the waters of the Yarkon to flow into the pipeline.
The new pipeline will provide water for about 200 settlements. It constitutes the first half of a 135-mile pipeline from the north of Tel Aviv, along the coastal area, to the arid Negev. When the whole pipeline is completed, in 1957, it will bring under irrigation about 100,000 acres of land. The first half of the pipeline already provides 50,000 acres with water for irrigation. Exploitation of the newly irrigated area will yield crops estimated at $25,000,000 a year.
Delivering close to three billion gallons of water annually to the centuries long abandoned Negev desert, the pipeline will also open the way to the settlement of thousands of immigrants seeking a haven in Israel. It will increase Israel’s irrigated lands by fully one-fourth.
ROLE OF U.S. JEWRY IN FINANCING THE PROJECT STRESSED BY SHARETT
Sixty-five percent of the total cost of the Yarkon-Negev line was assumed by the Jewish Agency and was covered from UJA funds. Most of the balance was furnished by the Israel Government with funds secured by the Israel bond drive. This was acknowledged in a speech delivered by Premier Moshe Sharett at the ceremony. He expressed “heartfelt thanks from the Government and the people of Israel” to the United Jewish Appeal and the Israel bond organization for making possible “this great event in our history.” He also expressed confidence that American Jewry “will continue and increase its vital contribution to the integration of immigrants, thus advancing Israel’s economic independence.”
The pumping equipment and the giant American diesel generators in underground pumping stations which drive the water from the Yarkon River through three reservoirs and two more pumping stations until they reach their destination 63 miles away, were purchased by the Jewish Agency offices in New York from the Worthington Corporation of Harrison. N.J. The contract with the American corporation, for $2,100,000 was signed in New York in July 1952 by Pinchas Sapir, managing director of the Mekorot Water Company of Israel, which is in charge of construction, and Gottlieb Hammer, executive director of the Jewish Agency.
Today’s ceremony at Rosh Hayin was witnessed by thousands of people. The guests were seated on a giant stage erected over the pumping station. The Hebrew blessing “Shechiyanu” was intoned as the pumps began working. Featured singers, narrators and dancers in colorful costumes portrayed the story of Israel’s parched lands and the greatest engineering feat now accomplished for the first time in 2,000 years.