New Hotline Set to Help Prevent PA Pollution

YERUSHALAYIM -

Unchecked waste, effluent disposal, and general pollution from Arab towns in Yehudah and Shomron is wreaking havoc on the environment, both in the region and in Israel proper – and for the first time, anyone who observes that pollution can call a special phone number to alert environmental authorities, who can intervene to stop the problem before it spreads.

The phone number connects to a desk manned by members of the Gush Etzion Field School, who have taken it upon themselves to institute the alert system. This the first time a direct communication channel to report instances of pollution in Yehudah and Shomron has been available, officials of the Field School told Yisrael Hayom.

Numerous reports and studies – the most recent one issued in March by the State Comptroller – point squarely to the pollution emerging from Arab villages as a major source of contamination of pressure land and water resources throughout the country. To dispose of their trash, villages Palestinian Authority-controlled areas often burn it, while allowing raw sewage to flow into streams. The burnt trash pollutes Israeli cities, and the sewage gets into the water table, degrading the quality of water in the country’s aquifers.

The line began to operate several months ago, and since then it has received hundreds of phone calls, said Amichai Noam, one of the organizers of the project. As a result, staff of the Field School have documented dozens of cases of violations, which they have turned over to the Civil Administration for action. “The only way this project can succeed is if people get involved,” Noam said. “The more reports we get, the more we can urge the authorities to take action to improve the situation.”

Marco Ben-Shabbat, who heads environmental enforcement in the Civil Administration, said that the reports had helped the Administration intervene in numerous cases, resulting in an improvement in environmental conditions. “This is an excellent addition to the patrols we have, which already are doing an excellent job in enforcing environmental regulations. Every pair of eyes we have out there helps not only improve the environment, but preserves the health of everybody.”