Israeli soldiers stand atop a tank at a staging area, near the border with the Gaza Strip.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An Environmental Protection Ministry official accused the IDF on Wednesday of being the country’s top environmental offender.
“The IDF today is the biggest environmental wrongdoer in Israel,” Yitzhak Ben-David, the ministry’s deputy director-general for enforcement, said at a Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee meeting.
The army goes by its own rules, he argued.
“When it departs from a training field, the field looks as if it has undergone a revolution. They leave tremendous amounts of waste. The army does not carry out enforcement, and is even irritated by such enforcement.”
The committee was discussing the 2011 Environmental Enforcement Law, and the failure since to promote any regulations allowing the ministry to monitor compliance within the country’s defense system. Amendment 19 to the law enables the environmental protection minister, with the consent of the defense minister, to establishment such regulations and enforce them within the army.
The law states that such regulations must be established within 90 days of the legislation’s going into effect, followed by cabinet approval within 30 days after that, the Knesset committee spokeswoman explained. Then the regulations would reach the Internal Affairs and Environment Committee. However, four years later, no such regulations have been formulated.
Although he acknowledged that the IDF was taking environmental issues “more seriously” than in the past, Ben-David argued that the army was getting away with violations that would result in indictments if they occurred in civil society.
In response to questions from committee chairman David Amsalem, Lt.-Col. Eyal Ezra, who oversees environmental protection for the IDF, said that the military was constantly collecting relevant data from its bases and conducting professional environmental performance reviews.
“We have a desire to fully cooperate,” Ezra said, adding, “There will not be one detail that goes unreported, and there has not been one detail that was not brought to us and taken care of,” Ezra said. “In portions of our infrastructure, we are in breakdown maintenance [mode]... due to the infrastructural legacy left for us.”
Amsalem, however, demanded that the IDF agree to the regulations as required by the Environmental Enforcement Law four years ago. He insisted on signatures from the relevant army officials within 21 days.
“The law was enacted in 2011, mandating the establishment of regulations within 90 days,” he said. “Four years have passed – why was this not executed? Is the army above the law? It should operate like all systems.”