IDF officer convicted after failing to clean up extensive gasoline leak

The IDF neglected to carry out orders by the Environmental Protection Ministry until the end of 2018.

Oil spill near Eilat  (photo credit: ISRAEL NATURE AND PARKS AUTHORITY)
Oil spill near Eilat
(photo credit: ISRAEL NATURE AND PARKS AUTHORITY)
An IDF officer was convicted of causing damage to the environment and sentenced to a fine and probation after he neglected to carry out directives by the Environmental Protection Ministry when about 5,000 liters of gasoline leaked outside a military school, according to Maariv.
The leak occurred in 2016 at a school for military engineering in southern Israel. A team from the ministry visited the site and ordered a series of actions to be done in order to minimize damage to the environment, including removing affected earth and placing plastic to separate the removed earth until it was removed from the base.
The IDF neglected to carry out the ministry's orders until the end of 2018. The ministry and the military criminal investigation division opened an investigation into the delay and recommended that several people should be tried, including the former deputy commander of the base, an officer with the rank of Lt.-Col.
The officer was notified about the incident months after he entered the role as deputy commander. The sentence was part of a plea deal reached with the officer in a military court. An officer and a non-commissioned officer who were responsible for the poor handling of the hazard were also issued indictments. The non-commissioned officer was convicted of negligence in a plea deal and was sentenced with probation and a fine. The trial of the additional officer is still ongoing.
Last May, the State Comptroller’s Report on the IDF’s activities in environmental protection was published, which was based on an audit conducted by the State Comptroller’s Office from 2017 to 2018. According to the report, the IDF’s ecological footprint is causing a large impact on the environment due to its lack of leadership regarding environmental control.

In 2010, the military approved a plan to protect the environment, which was to be executed over 15 years. However, according to the report, the multi-year plan was not implemented as scheduled, and therefore nothing was done.

This lack of implementation, according to the auditor’s report, is due to deficiencies rooted in the environmental management of the IDF, which have allowed continuous and uninterrupted harm to the environment. The body responsible for IDF environmental oversight was transferred from the Technology and Logistics Division to the Planning Division within the Environmental Protection Administration. Personnel dedicated to handling environmental issues have thus been significantly cut and also lack experience in this area.
 
Racheli Wacks contributed to this report.