Jo Kooper, a spokeswoman for the group, said police moved in after activists on the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior spray-painted the slogan "quit coal" on the side of a ship unloading coal at Ashkelon's harbor.
Greenpeace believes the air quality in Israel will be affected by this coal plant in Ashkelon, for the next 50 years.
Greenpeace isn't alone in this concern. For one they have the support of the mayor of Ashkelon.
In addition, doctors at Barzilai Medical Center said last May the already existing coal-fired power station in Ashkelon is impairing the health of the city's residents. It is one of the chief causes behind the increasing number of severe pulmonary and cardiac problems seen at regional clinics and hospitals, says a team of researchers at Barzilai.
The doctors believe that building a second power plant by the existing one, as the Israel Electric Corporation means to do, would badly worsen the health hazard. The doctors presented a comprehensive survey on the link between visits to the hospital and local clinics because of health and lung trouble, and fluctuations in air pollution levels.
The power station is the main source of pollution in Ashkelon, alongside vehicles. Its emissions include sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. A modest increase in smog causes a 3% to 5% increase in the number of people seeking treatment, the doctors claim.
"The study strengthens the Health Ministry position, which also opposes the establishment of another coal-fueled power station," stated Dr. Michael Gadilevich, who participated in the study. "Building another station would increase the level of pollution."
In June, Israel's Green Party sued the government and Israel Electric Corporation at the High Court of Justice, hoping the court would halt the progress on the coal-fired power plant in Ashkelon.
In the suit the party stated, "It is unconscionable that while the Health Ministry and Environmental Protection Ministry oppose the plant's construction, other ministries are simply ignoring the health of thousands of citizens.."
Greenpeace activists have said they plan to sail to another 10 countries to protest coal-fired power plants.
The following is from Arutz Sheva (Israel).
Greenpeace Activists Arrested for Trespassing, Vandalism
Police arrested fourteen activists from the Greenpeace organization at the Ashkelon harbor on Monday after their ship, the Rainbow Warrior, docked in a prohibited area and the activists proceeded to vandalize another ship at the port. Those arrested include Israelis and foreign nationals.
The Israeli Coast Guard was alerted and sped to Ashkelon, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, when the Rainbow Warrior entered a restricted area of the city's port. Police boarded the vessel and arrested the Greenpeace activists. In addition to entering an area prohibited to general civilian traffic, the activists spray-painted the words "Quit Coal" on the side of a ship that was unloading coal. The vandals also apparently planned to launch small boats or dinghies from the Rainbow Warrior towards a power station operating at the Ashkelon harbor.
The Greenpeace activists undertook Monday's actions in protest against the use of coal for energy production at the Ashkelon power plant. The Israeli government has plans to build a second electric power plant, also to be fueled by coal, alongside the existing one.
The Rainbow Warrior docked at Haifa Bay on Saturday on the open and legal leg of its visit to Israel. The crew opened the ship to Israelis and set up exhibits on board explaining their views on climate change and coal fuel. It may have been at this stage that the ship picked up Israeli Greenpeace activists for the next, illicit leg of the ship's voyage.
This is far from the first visit of the Rainbow Warrior to Israel. It is not even the first attention-grabbing "direct action" executed by Greenpeace activists in Israel this year. In May, three Greenpeace activists repelled from the roof of the National Infrastructure Ministry in Jerusalem. They draped a huge banner across the front of the building with a message in Hebrew, "In one week, Fuad will kill Ashkelon," followed by the words, "COAL KILLS!" in English. "Fuad" refers to National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who was set to approve the second coal-based power station in Ashkelon at the time.
As the banner-hangers jumped, Greenpeace activists blocked the entrance to the Ministry with ten kilograms of coal with two protruding dummy legs, "intended to represent the fact that Fuad's head is buried deep inside the coal industry," Greenpeace activists explained on an enviromentalist website.
At the May protest, Nili Grosman, Energy and Climate Campaigner for Greenpeace Mediterranean in Israel, said: "As if the Kassam bomb terror is not enough, now the citizens of Ashkelon have to suffer from an internal terror, produced by the Infrastructures Ministry but no less severe."