'I smell the stench of appeasement in the air'

Israelis choke on smoke from Kalkilya's burning garbage – and pay for the privilege.

Mordechai Sones,

Smog over Kalkilya
Smog over Kalkilya
Flash 90

The Civil Administration admitted, in response to a petition filed by Regavim and the Samaria Regional Council, that it continues to allow Kalkilya's garbage to be dumped at an illegal site "temporarily", and then transports it – at the expense of Israeli municipalities and Israeli taxpayers, while the residents of these Jewish communities continue to suffer from the acrid, toxic smoke produced by this dumpsite. The Supreme Court reprimands the Civil Administration: "The State is violating the law."

The Knesset Interior and Environmental Protection Committee is scheduled today to tour the Kochav Yair area to investigate the environmental hazard caused by burning garbage in the "seam" area delineating Israel from "Area A." The area, home to a large number of garbage dumps, is plagued by the smoke that rises from these illegal garbage disposal sites, and the stench and health hazards they cause affect thousands of people who live within range of the environmental blight.

One of the largest of these dumpsites is the illegal Kalkilya dump that, despite statements submitted by the Israeli government and the Civil Administration to the Supreme Court, continues to burn intermittently in recent days. Last year, Regavim and the Samaria Regional Council petitioned the Court against the Civil Administration, which allows the operation of the garbage dump from which the residents of Kfar Sava, Kochav Yair-Tzur Yigal, Tzofim and Alfei Menashe continue to suffer.

In the most recent Supreme Court hearing, the Civil Administration admitted that the garbage dump is, in fact, illegal, but due to "unavoidable realities" and the desire to curtail illegal disposal and incineration of garbage in Kalkilya and its satellite villages, the Civil Administration has allowed the Kalkilya Municipality, since 2010, to operate a transfer-point at the site – despite the fact that the site is not licensed or registered – to transport waste to a legal disposal site called "Zaharat al Finjan" in northern Samaria.

Transporting Kalkilya's refuse is funded by the "Clean-Up Fund," comprised of funds collected from taxpayers in (Jewish) municipalities; the Kalkilya municipality itself does not contribute towards transporting its own garbage to the legal waste-treatment facility.

The Civil Administration stated during the course of the hearing that it has conducted inspection tours of the site, and "the environmental protection experts are under the impression this is a transfer point, and no further dumping or incineration is taking place there."

In the course of the hearing, Justice Yael Vilner found it difficult to grasp the State's position. "Does the gentleman mean to say that we are allowing this illegal arrangement, because one form of illegal activity is preferable over another form of illegal activity?! There is a difference between the State itself violating the law as opposed to citizens violating the law. The State's behavior says: This is how I'm solving the problem. And this isn't reasonable. Why not force them to solve the problem legally and to submit permit requests?"

The Justices instructed Regavim to include the Kalkilya Municipality as respondents in the petition, and required the State of Israel and the Kalkilya Municipality to submit a progress report by the beginning of October regarding "the steps taken on the ground to reduce the hazards and the nuisance that are caused by the transfer point."

Beyond the illegality of the Civil Administration's behavior in this case, which the Supreme Court found so disturbing, the reality is even worse – and stands in sharp contradiction to the Civil Administration's statements. Waste incineration at the site continues intermittently, and the thick smoke continues to cause a noxious stench and a serious health hazard.

"The Supreme Court said, very clearly: The State cannot violate the law. The Civil Administration must shut down the illegal site immediately, enforce the law strictly, and create a real and effective deterrent," demands Regavim. "The costs of transporting the Kalkilya Municipality's garbage should be subtracted from Palestinian Authority funds, and not from the pockets of the Israeli citizens who are suffering from the stench and the smoke."

Shomron Regional Council head Yossi Dagan said: "It's unconscionable that Israeli taxpayers are funding the transport of refuse for Kalkilya, on the one hand, while on the other hand the criminals of Kalkilya continue to incinerate waste illegally and pollute the air that these same Israeli taxpayers breathe in Judea and Samaria, Kfar Sava, and Hod Hasharon. It's inconceivable that the State of Israel is participating in this absurdity."




top