A routine meeting between representatives from the Nature and Parks Authority, the director of "Army for the Protection of Nature," and several IDF commanders, took an unexpected turn on Thursday morning after they discovered a fox with its head stuck inside a bottle of Tahini close to the training base for the IDF's paratroopers unit.
The meeting focused on discussing the Technology and Logistic Division's project to promote recycling and reducing waste on IDF bases.
The IDF's efforts to reduce waste and promote more environmentally friendly habits coincide with national and global trends encouraging greener approaches to waste.
During the meeting, Guy Selai, director of the "Army for the Protection of Nature - commanders take responsibility for the environment" project, received a call from a project manager at the APN, informing him that during a tour of the area he had been surprised to discover a fox with its head trapped in an empty tahini bottle, close to the IDF paratroopers base.
Those in attendance at the meeting, along with Nature and Parks Authority inspector Liad Cohen, drove to the scene to begin searching for the fox in order to help it.
"We saw the fox crossing the Moran Forest in panic and confusion, [heading] towards the road leading to the paratrooper's base," recounted Cohen.
"The fox, who was blindly fleeing for its life, crossed the road and stopped in the thicket of a thorn bush. We immediately covered him with a shirt and I grabbed him tight and pulled off the box that was stuck very tightly to his head."
"I do not need to stress the importance of maintaining cleanliness," he continued. "Besides the aesthetic reasons, dozens of wild animals meet their deaths from debris left by humans."
SELAI STRESSED that the very project he had been meeting with IDF commanders about when the incident occurred had been set up in order to prevent similar scenarios from happening again in the future.
"We saved this fox by chance and I am happy about that, but the goal is to set standards for waste treatment in IDF bases and update orders and procedures," he said.
"In the coming months, special bins will be installed in training areas which will prevent the waste from being scattered on location and will allow for better separation of the items afterward," he explained, outlining the goals of the project.
A total of 28 IDF bases will be participating in the Army for the Protection of Natures project, aimed at mapping and reducing the volume of waste produced by the IDF, including the paratroopers training base next to which the fox was found.
The "Army for the Protection of Nature - Commanders Take Responsibility for Their Environment" project was established eight years ago and falls under the responsibility of the IDF's Technology and Logistics Division. It aims to help the military take responsibility for the preservation of the environment, nature and heritage sites in the areas under its responsibility.
The project allows commanders and their soldiers to receive professional advice and guidance from experts and provides them with training on environmental issues.
The IDF has long been a contentious issue for environmental activists and professionals due to the extensive damage to the environment that military operations can and do cause.
In late 2020, then environmental minister Gila Gamliel criticized the IDF after an operation in the North caused several forest fires. According to Gamliel, the fires burnt nearly 150 hectares (370 acres) of land in the Hermon Nature Reserve.
A 2018 State Comptroller Report revealed that the IDF's ecological footprint has caused significant damage to the local environment and that this was largely due to a lack of leadership and direction when it came to environmental issues.
The same report revealed that despite a government-imposed multi-year plan that was supposed to improve the IDF's approach to environmental issues and more specifically to the disposal of wastewater, there have only been minor improvements in the situation over the years.
The report concluded that, "despite the fact that Israeli security forces are causing serious environmental damage, so far there has been insufficient cooperation and willingness to improve."