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High court urges government to link all IDF bases to sewage systems
By SHARON UDASIN
05/18/2014
Various army bases still lack appropriate sewage treatment facilities, and have been polluting soil with wastewater.
 
High Court justices called upon government officials to expedite the sewage system connections of IDF bases that still lack wastewater treatment, in a hearing last week.

Green Now filed a petition to the High Court in 2012, in which the organization demanded immediate wastewater treatment at an army base near Beit El in particular, as well as at other Judea and Samaria bases that still lack sewage connections.

Because many of the bases do not have appropriate sewage treatment facilities, their wastewater has been polluting the soil, Green Now argued.

During the hearing, attorney Naftali Werzberger, who was representing Green Now, said that the decades long lack of wastewater treatment at the bases has created a reality in which citizens must treat sewage emanating from their homes – while the government fails to apply the same standards to IDF facilities.

The High Court justices presiding over the case – Esther Hayut, Hanan Meltzer and Uzi Fogelman – decided that a continued discussion on the Beit El base would be redundant, as the government recently submitted a notice verifying that this base had now been connected to the sewage network.

And the additional complaints Green Now filed about the failure to connect other camps in the region to the sewage system was too general to merit a judgment at this point, the judges said.

Citing the official state response to the case, the judges said that the connection of at least 18 camps in the region are in the first phase of a multi-year program approved by the government on the matter.

The officials were referring to a plan approved by the government in 2010, following the recommendations of an inter-ministerial committee, which calls for the incremental connection of remaining disconnected bases to sewage systems between 2010 and 2018.

Despite taking these plans into account, the judges reminded IDF and other relevant government officials that swift connections to the sewage systems remains critical.

“Taking into consideration the importance of the issue both in terms of ‘all are equal before the law’ and in terms of environment and quality of life of those living in the camps and around them, it is befitting that the handling of implementation of the multi-year plan in question will be expedited, according to the prioritization that was determination by the inter-ministerial committee,” the judges wrote.

The justices tasked the defendants – which in addition to the IDF, included the defense minister, the Environmental Protection Ministry, the Civil Administration, Israel Police and the attorney-general – with compensating Green Now NIS 5,000 for the organization’s associated court expenses.

Yael Yisrael, director of Green Now, said her hopes that “serious treatment of sewage that is polluting the ground and hurting water sources in Judea and Samaria IDF camps would finally begin,” with the push from the judges.

“This is an omission whose damage to the environment and all of the residents is great and intolerable,” Yisrael said. “Environmental damages are unreasonable and Green Now will continue to act forcefully so that this situation will not last.”

In response to the case, the IDF Spokesman’s Office said that the army is in the process of implementing the 2010 government decision, which finalized the multi-year program for connecting camps – including those in Judea and Samaria – to regional sewage infrastructure.

“The process is taking place regardless of the submission of the petition in question, which was filed after the formulation of the plan,” a statement from the IDF Spokesman’s Office said. “The IDF is operating according to the priorities set forth in the plan in order to implement it fully, and continues to work for the environment and for the promotion of related procedures in general on IDF bases.”
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