This is the abandoned water park "Atrakzia" - located on the northern shore of the Dead Sea. It was once a symbol of positivity and coexistence, but now stands as a dilapidated ruin, the victim of the violence of the Second Intifada.
First opened in 1989 following the First Intifada, the park's owners foresaw the potential of the location for both Jewish and Arab visitors. Three kibbutz communities - Kalia, Almog and Beit Ha'arava - combined efforts to plan and build the park of 300 dunhams at a cost of close to 20 million shekels.
It quickly became a popular destination, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors a year and providing a sense of normalcy in a region plagued by conflict. The park's success brought prosperity to the surrounding area for over a decade, with locals and international tourists supporting the park and local businesses like restaurants and hotels.
Sadly, this was not to last.
The outbreak of the Second Intifada in October 2000 brought violence and turmoil to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, and Atrakzia was not immune to its effects. The park, located in the Jordan Valley and Jericho area, saw a sharp decline in visitors as the region became a center of conflict. Despite the challenges, the owners held out hope for a resolution and kept the park open for two more years. However, mounting debt ultimately forced them to close the park's gates permanently in 2002.
Memories frozen in time and an uncertain future
A visit to Atrakzia today is an eerie experience. It is a reminder of the fleeting nature of success and the impact of larger political events on people living on the pendulum of time in the Middle East.
The decaying slides and empty pools are a stark contrast to the bustling atmosphere that once filled this island of sanity in an area that has bled so much. Echoes of visitors long ago ring loud on Kalia Beach, alongside glamping tents and Bedouin camels that are still here.
What does the future hold for this sad relic of recreation? The hope of the locals in the area is to develop the beach once again with a new park, or a similar attraction. But between bureaucracy and an ever changing reality in the Jordan Valley, it is anyone's guess to which side the pendulum will swing.
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