Court okays army Negev compound despite environmental group objection

Beersheba's District Court on Thursday rejected a petition made two months ago against the Defense Ministry's plans to build a massive IDF training compound at the Negev junction, just a few kilometers from the Ramat Hovav Industrial Park. Environmental groups strongly oppose construction of the new training base - in effect, a small city. Ramat Hovav houses 17 chemical companies, constituting over half of all chemical companies in Israel. According to the Union for Environmental Defense, the plant produces at least nine major air pollutants, several of which are classified by the government as poisons. In her ruling, the judge stated that the Defense Ministry's inspection of pollution levels in the area was sufficient, and there was no need to await further examination by the Health Ministry. Ehud Zion Waldoks contributed to this report.