IDF cracks down on West Bank dumping

Official: Out of the 2,500 tons of garbage produced by Israel daily, over 1,000 dumped in territories.

judea trash 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy)
judea trash 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A recent military order against Israeli trucks illegally dumping garbage in the West Bank has brought about an 80-percent drop in the criminal phenomenon, according to the IDF Civil Administration. The order, signed by OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Shamni and Civil Administration head Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, went into effect last month. According to the new order, Israeli garbage trucks caught driving in the West Bank without proper permits - even if they do not dump garbage - can be immediately confiscated and the drivers fined. In the past, only truck drivers caught in the act of dumping garbage in the West Bank could be penalized. To do this, Civil Administration workers needed to lay ambushes near fields used by Israeli contractors and local authorities to illegally dump their garbage. "The new order prevents pollution in the West Bank, which has a direct effect on pollution levels inside Israel," said Beni Elbaz, an Environmental Protection Ministry representative in the Civil Administration. "The new order also provides a solution to [violations of] international law that forbids an occupying force to dump garbage in the occupied territory." Out of the 2,500 tons of garbage produced by Israel daily, he said, more than 1,000 tons were being dumped in the West Bank before the order - some in makeshift landfills, and in extreme cases just on the side of the road. This was done by private contractors who did not want to pay for their garbage removal, as well as some local councils that were also seeking to save money. Garbage disposal costs NIS 100 per ton in Israel, but can be as cheap as NIS 20 in the West Bank. The Civil Administration, Elbaz said, was not only working to minimize the amount of garbage dumped in the West Bank, but was also planning to invest several million shekels in upgrading some of the makeshift landfills. The work is being coordinated by Lt.-Col. Avi Shalev, head of the Civil Administration's International Affairs Department. Alongside the new order, the Civil Administration is also working with several foreign governments and NGOs to develop sanitary landfills throughout the West Bank. One landfill, called Zahret al-Finjan, was opened earlier this year near Jenin and was funded by the World Bank. Germany has allocated $10 million to build another landfill near Ramallah, and a third is also being planned near Bethlehem and Hebron. Japan has also recently expressed interest in building a small landfill near Jericho. "The idea is to create proper and sanitary landfills for all of the West Bank's regions - northern Samaria, in the Center near Ramallah, and in the southern part near Hebron," a senior Civil Administration officer said. Already, the officer said, following the opening of the Jenin site, some 700 pirate landfills have closed down. "The Palestinians take garbage disposal seriously and realize that this is an important issue," the officer said.