Capernaum Restaurant – Back to the Public
Capernaum Beach also known as “Gino Beach” was returned to the public after years of illegal seizure.
Among our numerous cases, one case almost caused a diplomatic incident. As part of our representation for the Ministry of Environmental Protection, on March, 2012, we filed at the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court, indictment 52062-03-12 against three defendants: a company and two executives. The company was The Capernaum Restaurant and Beach 2003, Ltd. and the two executives were Ahmed Ouda and Ali Ouda. All three were charged with committing serious environmental pollution to Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).
As written in the indictment, the defendants: operated and ran a restaurant in a national park and nature reserve; operated a business without a license; did not have the required and proper infrastructure for carrying and treating waste-water produced by the restaurant. Therefore, on a number of occasions the defendants pumped the waste-water from the restaurant through a hidden pipeline system into Lake Kinneret. Furthermore, the defendants did not have the required permanent infrastructure, and did not have the appropriate business permit, which prevented compulsory inspections and regulation by various local and state authorities.
In view of the continuing violations and to prevent further harm to the public, the environment and to natural resources, we filed, along with the indictment, a request for closure demanding the defendants close the restaurant immediately.
In May 2012, the Attorney General ordered the various law enforcement authorities, including our firm, to jointly enforce the law and to cease the violations committed by the defendants et al where the restaurant was located.
The overall picture that was revealed was severe and harsh. We found that the defendants et al, for many years, built a prosperous business that was carried out in violation of laws, while committing all the alleged criminal offenses. These activities had serious consequences, including strained foreign diplomatic relations to the State of Israel, due to the fact that part of the land where the restaurant was located and that was illegally seized by the defendants and others, is owned by the Vatican.
After a long legal battle, that included an appeal to the District Court, we succeeded in closing the restaurant. The District Court adopted and accepted our position that the defendants should not be allowed to continue their criminal activities, and that the public interest is maintaining the law and preventing environmental pollution:
““There cannot be any doubt that operating a restaurant, in a national park and nature reserve, without obtaining the necessary permits and that was not approved by all the authorities is a clear violation of the law, and harmful to the public, can by itself lead for the closure…
Based on the above arguments, I hereby accept the appeal and order a temporary junction prohibiting the use of the restaurant until the end of proceedings in the trial court. The order will take effect immediately”.
Parallel to the proceedings taken by our firm, in early January 2014, the Supreme Court ruled in a civil procedure between the defendants and others and the Nature and Parks Authority that the demolition and removal of the restaurant will be executed immediately.
Jerusalem Post Article
Channel 2 News Item