Two Greenpeace activists were arrested in Jerusalem on Sunday morning when they
climbed up eight-meter flagpoles outside city hall.
attempted to display a giant banner to convey their message: “Stop recycling
promises – begin recycling garbage, now!” The banner, which was six by seven
meters, was formatted to look exactly like a municipality report, according to a
statement from Greenpeace, which said that the report was conveying a message to
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.
“Waste report from Jerusalem residents to
Mayor Barkat. Description of offense: Burying waste rather than
The two activists managed to climb the masts, but the police
arrived shortly thereafter to arrest them, leaving time for just one of the
activists to successfully display a smaller placard, reading, “Recycle now!”
according to Greenpeace.
At the same time, however, other activists
dressed in inspector uniforms distributed copies of the mock report to passersby
and asked them to deliver the message to the mayor’s office.
to get the Jerusalem recycling project in motion,” said Yael Ifergan, manager of
Greenpeace’s Detox Campaign, in a statement. “As Israel’s capital and largest
city, Jerusalem is also the most polluting. We wanted to give today a report
Mayor Barkat, in the name of the public.
“The report uncovers the high
price that the public is forced to pay everyday for the burying of each ton of
garbage in the land, and the grave environmental price of the waste of land,
emissions of polluting gases and the risk to our groundwater – this is a
burdensome price that will be forced upon our children to pay.”
alleged that she tried to enter the municipality on Sunday morning in order to
discuss the issue with the mayor, but she was denied access to do
“Regretfully, it doesn’t surprise me that we did not find today a
sympathetic ear in the Jerusalem Municipality,” she continued. “It’s not the
first time that the mayor abstained from meeting with us about the subject of
recycling; this is the attitude that this subject receives, and our
investigation will not stop here.
“For 17 years, mayors are ignoring the
subject of recycling in Jerusalem, and therefore, they are transforming one of
the most beautiful cities in the world to a producer of massive quantities of
garbage that has no care-taking, but instead buries in the land and creates
great damage. Today we call upon all residents of Jerusalem in particular and
all residents of Israel to demand together that Nir Barkat and the rest of
mayors in Israel take proper and practical care of the problem.
demand to advance immediately the subject of separation of waste at the source
and to budget for, in the coming year, an important and urgent subject – we have
In response to the Greenpeace campaign and protest, the
municipality told The Jerusalem Post that Barkat has placed environmental issues
and the subject of recycling among his top priorities, after many years of
already providing a special emphasis to these issues.
“The city has
prepared a master plan for urban separation of waste and is acting with vigor to
implement it all over the city,” the municipality’s statement to the Post said.
“Jerusalem has significantly increased the amount of waste that is recycled, and
is in the preliminary planning stages for an innovative facility that will
convert waste into energy.”
With regards to protecting the environment,
the city responded that it has set recycling bins for bottles and paper all over
the city, and there are already more than 2,400 recycling bins throughout
Jerusalem’s streets – 1,100 for plastic bottles, 900 for paper and 200 for paper
and cardboard. In addition, in recent weeks, the municipality added more than 70
bins for collecting bottles and recycled paper in east Jerusalem, as part of a
citywide effort to narrow gaps among its populations, and the number of bins is
expected to double itself in 2012, the statement noted.
The city expects
to add about 170 school and 15 neighborhood recycling centers in this section of
Jerusalem, according to the municipality.
Meanwhile, the city has also
established a giant recycling center in the neighborhood of Givat Shaul, where
residents can recycle metal waste, batteries, electronic equipment and other
In addition to its recycling efforts, the city said it
recently established a department that deals specifically with sustainable
development, and is preparing for the rehabilitation of dozens of kilometers
worth of open spaces. The leading Israeli city in solar energy, Jerusalem
currently has 2.5 megawatts worth of solar panels on public buildings, including
48 schools that received panels this summer, according to the
Jerusalem also has the largest number of community gardens
of any city nationwide – 40 – and also has 80 percent of its sewage water
recycled for agricultural use, and is currently in the process of rehabilitating
the sewage-clogged Kidron Valley, the statement added.
If the city is in
fact working to implement a waste separation plan, however, it should be
revealing details about the plan to the public to “let the citizens of Jerusalem
know where their money goes,” Theodora Karchovsky, communications officer for
Tel Aviv-based Greenpeace Mediterranean told the Post in response to the
“This is the fastest and best way to make the
garbage less, but they are not speaking a word about giving money to it next
year,” she said.
As Greenpeace begins to kick its new recycling campaign
forward, staff members asked mayors all over Israel what their biggest plans
were regarding recycling, and specifically received no answer from Barkat,
according to Karchovsky.
“We are not going only for Jerusalem – the rest
of the cities are next,” she said. “But the situation in Jerusalem is the worst,
it produces the most garbage in all of Israel, and they’re not doing anything
about it and are not willing to share their plans.”