Photo by Kobi Natan/TPS on 17 July, 2023

50 Years After Carving His House Into a Cliff, Israeli Man Faces Eviction

Public By Pesach Benson • 17 July, 2023

Jerusalem, 17 July, 2023 (TPS) -- An Israeli man who literally carved out a home for himself in seaside cliffs faces eviction after having lived there for 50 years.

“I really love the sea,” Nissim Kahlon told the Tazpit Press Service. “I don’t have money to buy a home.”

Wearing a yellow t-shirt, with a four-cornered fringed religious garment known as tzitzit on top and large gray knit skullcap, he showed TPS around his home.

The home is carved into a seaside cliff on the outskirts of the upscale city of Herzliya. What began as an eight-meter-wide room, is a now warren of rooms, tunnels and stairs, decorated with sea shells, wood, stones, glass and ceramics of all colors. Despite a heat wave, the house is surprisingly cool and airy. The home is connected to electricity and plumbing, and the kitchen sports a gas stove.

Other than conversation, the only sounds were the tinkling of hanging decorations swaying in the breeze and the crashing of the nearby waves.

Kahlon, now 77, was recently served with an eviction notice by Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry. The ministry says the home was illegally built and threatens the coastline.

In a statement to TPS, the Environmental Protection Ministry called the house, “a significant environmental, and security, hazard, according to professional reviews on behalf of the Herzliya Municipality, which is subordinate to the ministry.”

The statement added, “In the reviews that the Herzliya Municipality have released throughout the years it seems that the building is dangerous, and that the cliff is falling apart. The municipality even informed the ministry that they have alternative accommodational solutions.”

Explosions at an abandoned military facility near Kahlon’s home have further weakened the cliff, the ministry said. Improperly stored gunpowder in an old ammunition factory exploded, leaving a crater in the ground in June. And in 1992, explosives at the facility blew up, killing two people.

Kahlon doesn’t deny that he’s been squatting. He was 29 when he first came to the cliff with a shovel and pick. But Khalon questions why authorities armed with an eviction notice didn’t remove him in 1974.

“Fourteen cars came. Police, Border Patrol, city inspectors,” Kahlon recalled. “I thought, ‘Nissim, this is not your day.'”

They were there for half an hour without evicting Kahlon or demolishing the home. He wasn’t given an explanation.

“‘Thank God they left,’ I said.”

He also stresses that in 1992, the house was connected for electricity and water. The home does not have a telephone or internet connection, and people who want to reach Kahlon instead call a social worker who knows him.

The ministry and the Israel Land Authority reportedly intend to seal the rooms he carved into the cliff.

Kahlon is appealing the eviction order. Family and friends began a crowdfunding campaign to cover his legal expenses.

Asked where he will go if authorities follow through on the eviction, Kahlon shrugs.

“I have no place to go.”