(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israelis produced hundreds – or perhaps even thousands – of tons of trash over Passover, with some 550 tons collected in Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund forests and parks alone, the organization reported on Sunday.
The 550 tons include garbage disposed of properly in organized bins, as well as trash thrown haphazardly into the trees and fields. Although waste accumulation was high over the holiday, most travelers did discard their trash in garbage receptacles rather than scattering it at picnic grounds, KKL-JNF said.
“During the holiday, KKL-JNF foresters walked among the travelers, greeted them at the entrance to forests and at information stations, distributed garbage bags and requested that they maintain cleanliness,” a statement from the organization said.
Over the course of the holiday, some 800,000 visitors made their way to KKLJNF sites. Among the places with the most trash accumulation were Ramot Menashe Park, with 80 tons; Ben-Shemen Forest, with 60 tons; the Biriya forests, with 40 tons; and Gilboa, with 30 tons, data from the organization said. In the forests of the South, the contractors gathered about 120 tons of trash in total.
While far more travelers – about 1.5 million – visited Israel Nature and Parks Authority national parks and nature reserves during the holiday, no data were available for garbage accumulated at INPA sites. Nonetheless, the INPA stressed that its inspectors cleaned the sites thoroughly all day, every day, throughout Passover.
Meanwhile, the Kinneret Towns Association reported collecting about 250 tons of trash around Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) campsites and tourist areas.
In response to reports about the large amount of garbage removed from the country’s outdoor sites, Maya Jacobs, CEO of the environmental organization Zalul, described “the mountains of garbage” that remained after the holiday as “unbelievable.”
“The rain of recent vdays is now washing away all the garbage that was not yet collected into stream channels, beaches and the sea,” Jacobs said.
Although the law enables NIS 700 fines for littering, Jacobs expressed doubt that anyone was paying for such violations over the holiday.
“This is a widespread phenomenon of disrespect that will not stop unless the government and the Knesset and the local authorities understand their responsibilities,” she said. “An extensive process is required, including school lessons prior to the vacation, deployment of garbage cans and cleaning staff reinforcements in crowded places – and particularly, heavy fines to deter littering. Otherwise, we will all be drowned in the garbage that we leave in nature.”