A dam in the Jordan River was ceremoniously opened last week during the inauguration of a project to reflood a portion of the Hula Valley in the Upper Galilee.
The reflooding is part of a redevelopment plan overseen by the Jewish National Fund, the Israel Lands Administration, the Ministry of Agriculture and regional local authorities.
Plans call for the newly created water body to serve as a natural mecca for tourists.
Lake Hula was drained and its swamps dried during the 1950s by JNF to transform the area into agricultural land and to combat malaria by eliminating the habitat of the disease-bearing mosquitoes. It was at the time considered a hallmark of Zionist pioneering.
Following the lake’s draining, the area was cultivated for orchards, crops and fish breeding, steps that helped realize the planners’ original objectives.
But serious ecological problems arose over the years in some of the areas that had been drained. The peat soil began to sink, caught fire frequently, was infested with mice and lost much of its fertility.
The architects of the reflooding project are emphasizing that the new initiative does not represent an indictment of the draining that was done so laboriously 40 years ago.
The 1950s project fulfilled the needs of the time, said Bunny Alexandroni, JNF spokeswoman.
She added that the new project responded to the area’s current needs and provided an illustration of planners and technicians working in harmony with nature.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.