Earth Day, which started in the late 1960s in the United States, has long become a calendar staple and Israel will
join its fellow nations Thursday by marking Earth Hour,
starting at 8 pm.
A global event organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature, Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007, when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off all nonessential lights for one hour.
More cities joined the Australian lead initiative and in 2008, 50 million people took part in Earth Hour – Global landmarks the likes of the Sydney Opera House, Rome’s Colosseum, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Coca Cola billboard in new York's Times Square, all enveloped in darkness in honor of the planet.
The WWF said that its goal for 2009 is to have one billion people flip the switch. Israel, for one, heeded the call, as major cities such as Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Beersheba all called on their residents to turn off the lights for one hour, organizing a slew of special events to celebrate Earth Day.
Tel Aviv will be the first to go dark for one hour, starting at 8 pm. Mayor Ron Huldai will turn off the lights at City Hall, with the Azrieli Towers, the Tel Aviv University and dozens of businesses throughout the greater metropolitan area following.
Tel Aviv will hold its main Earth Hour event at Rabin Square, starting at 7 pm. The show is said to be powered completely by renewable energy – biofeul and a pedalling.
Jerusalem will be the next to turn off the lights, starting at 8:10 pm. President Shimon Peres and Mayor Nir Barkat will turn off the lights on the Tower of David and the surrounding walls of the Old City. The walls' skies will see an electricity-free pyrotechnics show.
The Knesset, the Prime Minister's Office and all other government bureaus will also go dark.
Haifa will be the third to flip the switch, starting at 8:20 pm. All major boulevards, from the city's entrance to the foot of Mount Carmel will stand darkened, as well as the Haifa Bay, the magnificent gardens of the Baha'i World Centre, the city's vast refineries compound and its industrial area. Ships docking at the harbor will sound their horns throughout the hour.
Beersheba will follow, going dark fourth, starting at 8:30 pm. Mayor Rubik Danilovitch will see City Hall go dark, followed by the Negev Division Monument and other key venues and the city. A special candlelight concert will be held in Beersheba's amphitheater.
More details on Earth Hour events throughout Israel can be found here