Court rejects IDF divers' suit against river polluters

Navy divers claimed that diving in Haifa's Kishon River exposed them to harmful toxins dumped by local industrial plants.

Greenpeace blocks Kishon River 370 (photo credit: Greenpeace activists try to stop pollutants in Kis)
Greenpeace blocks Kishon River 370
(photo credit: Greenpeace activists try to stop pollutants in Kis)
The Haifa District Court on Monday ruled against a joint lawsuit by ex-navy divers against industrial plants in Haifa which they say poisoned a river they dived in and caused them to suffer diseases.
Some 70 former divers who served in the Israel Navy in the 1970s and 80s, and who dived in Haifa's Kishon River during training, launched a class action lawsuit against Haifa Chemicals Ltd., Oil Refineries Ltd., the Haifa Municipality, and local districts in the Haifa area after they contracted several diseases, including cancer.
But the court ruled on Monday that the divers had failed to prove a connection between their diseases and their exposure to the Kishon River.
The IDF declined to comment on the ruling.
In their lawsuit, the divers said the river had been polluted with toxic chemical substances which led them to suffer the diseases.
In a 147-page ruling, the court rejected arguments attempting to link the diseases to the waste substances in the river water. It also criticized the attempt by the complainants to prove their claims "without relying on statistical" evidence and without attempting to use epidemiological arguments.
A portion of the complainants have been classified as military veterans and are receiving compensation, despite the fact most of the members of the official committee appointed to investigate the incidents found no link between their diseases and their IDF service.
The committee, which published its findings in 2003, was headed by retired judge Justice Meir Shamgar, who held the minority opinion that linked instances of cancer among the divers to the toxic substances in the river.
In 2011, the cabinet approved a large-scale project to clean the river of chemicals, at a cost of $220 million.