Air Pollution From Arab Trash Fires a Major Health Issue, MKs Told

YERUSHALAYIM -
Kalkilya. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Many Arab cities and towns in Yehudah and Shomron dispose of their trash by burning it – and this is causing a major pollution problem for Israel, MKs were told during a session of the Knesset Environment Committee. Shomron Council head Yossi Dagan, along with 17 mayors and local council heads from throughout Israel, presented a litany of complaints about Arab trash incineration, and citing Environment Ministry statistics showing that air pollution was higher in their towns on days the Arabs burned their trash.

In fact, there is a major trash fire raging almost every day somewhere in Yehudah and Shomron, Dagan told MKs. Kalkilya, an Arab city with over 50,000 residents that borders Israel, is an especially pungent source of pollution. The mayors of Kfar Sava, which is adjacent to Kalkilya, and Netanya, testified that their residents were suffering greatly from the air pollution caused by the fires – and that the health of the elderly and children was at risk. Also speaking to the committee were residents of Tzofim, an Israeli town east of Kalkilya which is downwind from the Arab town. Residents of that town who suffer from asthma and other problems are unable to leave their homes, they said, because of the constant smoke in the air.

“Air pollution harms us all,” said Dagan. “We have been in touch with residents of Kalkilya, and they are suffering as well, although they dare not raise the subject. Criminal elements on both sides of the Green Line are taking advantage of the weakness of the government and law enforcement. We demand that this weakness come to an end. This is not a political issue, but a health issue that affects us all. I intend to put a great deal of effort into resolving this.” MK David Amsalem, chairman of the committee, said that further meetings would be scheduled to discuss the matter.