Fifty years after Nissim Kahlon moved into his home, the Environmental Protection Ministry of Israel has issued an eviction notice.
Kahlon has labored to transform a modest cave on a Mediterranean beach into a complex labyrinth for over half a century. The maze is an intricate network of stairs and rooms connected by mosaic flooring and carved passageways. Kahlon, 77, readily welcomes guests inside his underground house, which is a favorite site for local curiosity seekers because of the unique creative work in which he lives.
But now, the government of Israel has asked him to leave, saying that the construction is against the law and endangers the shoreline.
Kahlon began carving a cave in the sandstone cliffs above the Herzliya beach, north of Tel Aviv 1973 while living in a tent nearby.
With time and the addition of recyclable materials, including wood, metal, ceramic, and stone, his basic hole in the wall grew into a sandcastle-like edifice. His primary living space is decorated with elaborate mosaics made from tiles of varying colors he salvaged from Tel Aviv garbage sites over the years. Exterior walls benefit from the decorative and insulating qualities of recycled glass bottles.
The labyrinth’s walls are rounded, and the stairs wind and fork into the rock to various chambers. Kahlon claims his building is strong and comes with modern conveniences like indoor plumbing, a working phone connection, and electric lights.
Kahlon said that in 1974 he was given a demolition order that was never carried out.
He maintains that no one in authority has opposed him since then, including up to the previous year. He has been given until the end of the month to file an appeal so that the eviction can be delayed.
Years ago, he constructed a restaurant on the beach without obtaining building permission, and the city eventually shut it down. But his primary argument is that local authorities connected his cave to the electric grid decades ago.
On the borders of Herzliya, a seaside city 8 miles north of Tel Aviv, sits Kahlon’s cave house. It’s not like the other mansions in the coastal town, one of the most elite regions in a country suffering from a chronic housing crisis.
Friends and relatives of Kahlon are raising money for his defense so that he can continue his life’s work uninhibited.