The Israel Defense Forces is ignoring the requirement to submit environmental quality reports with apparent impunity, according to a senior Environmental Protection Ministry official.
Eighteen months ago, on a tour of IDF bases in the West Bank, Itzhak Ben-David, the Environmental Protection Ministry's deputy director general for enforcement, observed that fuel and oil were leaking into the ground. Such fuel leaks threaten ground water and soil quality.
Ben-David was told that an officer would be dealing with the matter, but his requests to meet with that officer went unanswered.
After failing to receive the results of tests the IDF conducted, two weeks ago Ben-David wrote the Military Advocate General, Brig. Gen. Danny Efroni.
"A civilian polluter would have already been investigated by the ministry's enforcement officials and long since been indicted, probably found guilty and made to pay a heavy fine," Ben-David wrote.
He added that he did not understand why the army was unwilling to inform the ministry of its test results and the steps it was taking to rectify the situation. "Do you have something to hide?" Ben-David wrote, once again demanding to receive the information.
Sources in the Environmental Protection Ministry say the IDF seems to be in no hurry to comply with the law when it comes to environmental cleanup.
In one case, the army has delayed cleaning up large quantities of asbestos at the Ketziot base in the Negev. In that case, the army was required almost four years ago to deal with the problem. It finally agreed to do so but action has yet to be taken.
In the case of the bases in the West Bank, the ministry says the fuel pumps on the bases actually have equipment to prevent leaks, but neglect and carelessness have made testing all the more essential.
The fuel leaks in the West Bank bases are a focus of the ministry's frustration with the IDF, one of the country's biggest polluters. The ministry's ability to oversee and enforce such a cleanup on the IDF is limited. This is true not only with regard to pollution prevention, but also when it comes to supervision of various dangerous materials.
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