It was not long ago, when swimmers in Ein Gev spread their towels on the grass at the edge of the Sea of Galilee.
Today, they put their umbrellas 100 yards later, on a sandy beach that appeared due to the contraction of the iconic body of water.
"Every time we come, we feel pain in the heart," said Yael Litz, 47, who visited the famous lake with her family for 15 years.
"The lake is a symbol in Israel, every time there is a drought, it's the first thing we talk about."
Before lychee, wooden boats with pilgrims are created on the ship to navigate in calm waters, among groups from all over the world that visit.
The Sea of Galilee, where Christians believe that Jesus walked on the water, has been shrinking for years, mainly because of overuse, and environmentalists provoke the alarm.
Plan to revive the body of fresh water known to Israelis Kinneret and some of them like Lake Tiberias.
For Israel, the lake is vital, has long been the main water source of the country. Israeli newspaper Country Provides the daily water level on the back page.
Her shrinkage was a source of deep concern. When two islands have recently appeared due to the fall of the water level, it has received great attention in the Israeli media.
"Since 2013 we are below the low red line" beyond which "salinity rises, fish find it difficult to survive and vegetation is damaged," said Amir Givati, a hydrologist at the Israel Water Authority.
The plateau is only about 20 inches above the low record plumbed in 2001 – but, at the same time, 400 million cubic meters per year were pumped out for irrigation.
"This year, we are only pumping 20 million cubic meters, but the lake is in a very bad state," Givati said.
In addition, 50 million cubic meters that Israel sends to neighboring Jordan as part of peace agreements.
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– Banana Valley –
Its unique characteristics transcend its religious importance.
It is 200 meters below sea level, north of the Dead Sea, including the Jordan River.
Both the Dead Sea and the Jordan River suffered from overuse.
The Galilee covers about 160 square kilometers, about the size of Liechtenstein.
In the Water Ministry, the blame for his condition rests on five years of drought.
But "climate factors alone are not enough to explain the Kinneret's watercolor shrinkage," wrote Michael Wayne, Alon Rimmer and Nathan Laron, researchers at Ben-Gurion University.
Exploited agriculture, pumping and diversion are the main culprits, they say in the analysis.
Israel built the national aqueduct in the 1950s after the birth of the state, when it sought to build the nation and sought to "flourish the desert flowering," as the pioneer put it.
The aqueduct carried water from the lake to the rest of the country.
"Lake Tiberias was a national reservoir," said Julie Trottier, a professor specializing in Israeli-Palestinian water issues.
A man-made canal provided water west of the Mediterranean coast and the Negev desert in the south, she said.
This system did not exist for about ten years. Today, most homes in the west of the country use desalinated seawater from the Mediterranean Sea, while farms are irrigated with treated water and recycled.
But Israel's East has no access to desalinated water, said Orit Skutelsky of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel.
Farmers in the area rely on rivers that provide 90 percent of the lake's input.
Dozens of pumps annually clear about 100 million cubic meters of these sources, whose flow is diminishing and no longer sufficient to supply the lake, the researcher says.
A few kilometers from the shores of Ein Gev, at the foot of rocky hills, giant nets cover banana trees, leaving the surrounding dry vegetation.
"We call it a banana valley," said Meir Barkan, the tourism director of the Ein Gev resort.
"When they started planting trees, there was no problem with the water and the banana is the only fruit you harvest all year round."
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– "Really ashamed"
But without desalinated or recycled water, the farms are a key player in "a competition for resources between nature, agriculture and tourism," says Eran Feitelson, a professor of geography at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
For Lior Avihai, the agronomist at the Tzemach Tzemach research center, the solution is not to "kill agriculture and the local economy," but to use less water.
The authorities offer to supply the water with desalinated water through the aqueduct.
Skutelsky said that to better manage the ecosystem, the water should be sent upstream and then allowed to flow down naturally.
But "it will be very expensive," Skotski said.
Menachem Lev, 59, has spent 39 years in his life on the lake as a fisherman.
With the palm of his open hand he presents a fish of St. Peter taken from his nets, barely bigger than the palm of his hand.
"The solution can come only from the government – or from the sky," he said.
He points to the half-deserted platform, which the pilgrim boats can no longer reach, forcing the visitors to come down on the bank.
"I am really ashamed when tourists see the lake in this country," Lev said.