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Documentary film about draining Lake Hula
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הפקה: מנהל ההסברה במשרד ראש-הממשלה, 1954 16 מ"מ
Short film promoting the draining of the wetland; makeshift camp for Iranian Jewish immigrants and the papyrus reed mat industry, and building towns: The idea of draining the Hula lake and wetland as a means of eradicating infectious diseases, most notably malaria, was first raised many years before the establishment of the State of Israel. As early as 1934, the Palestine Land Development Corporation purchased the concession to carry out a drainage program in the area from the British mandatory authorities. A number of engineering plans were prepared, but actual work on the project only commenced in 1952. In the intervening years, from the time the idea was first suggested until it became a reality, the symbolic significance of the project as an expression of settling the land gradually took precedence over its practical significance. As the scheduled time for starting the project approached, a number of petitioners, including representatives of the Zoological Society and administrators from the Ministry of Health, approached then-prime minister David Ben-Gurion, and warned him of the potentially dire consequences of the drainage plan. This "classified" memorandum was sent by Dr. Chaim Sheba to the Prime Minister's Office, with an attached memo written by the director of the anti-malaria unit of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Zvi Saliternik. According to both documents, draining the Hula would actually be detrimental to the battle against malaria, and would do more harm than good. The use of DDT had been proven to be the most effective method of wiping out malarial mosquitoes, according to Sheba and Saliternik, and experts at the Ministry of Health were concerned that the drainage of the wetland and the redirection of its waters to a new channel would lead to the failure of the DDT program. In the end, the government decided to approve the plan in spite of the objections, and the drainage of the Hula wetland - the State of Israel's first major engineering project - was completed in 1958. Today, many experts are convinced the drainage project was a mistake. At any rate, some are also convinced that the lake and wetland will someday return, either through human intervention or by simply letting nature take its course.
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