Recently, we exposed, along with journalist Lia Spilkin that a huge number of old Egged buses were sold to an illegal junkyard. Since the operation of the junkyard was carried out without supervision, ignoring all regulations and requirements, the environmental damage was huge, and old vehicle parts found their way onto the black market.
Egged claimed that it’s not responsible for what happens in junkyards that it doesn’t own. Even if the purchase of old buses is made by a criminal, and despite the environmental damage, Egged isn’t interested. When we asked for information about the buyer, the bus company refused to comment.
Regavim approached the Civil Administration to demand enforcement action against the junkyard, located on IDF Training Ground 203 in the western Binyamin region. Civil Administration officials responded, as expected, that enforcement will take place “in accordance with established priorities”.
On this occasion, the public and media attention clearly had an effect: the Civil Administration evacuated the junkyard and confiscated the criminals’ work vehicles.
We plan to monitor the situation on the ground to make sure that the criminals don’t return to their damaging ways. All over the country, we shall continue our Zionist activities, fighting for the protection of Israel’s environment and land resources. If you want to be part of our important efforts, you’re invited to donate to Regavim.
In the last few years, the industry of illegal junkyards has grown, turning into a serious, widespread, national problem. Criminals view the illegal disposal of waste as worthwhile and profitable, and too often they manage to escape punishment.
Removal contractors “save” the costs of properly dealing with waste at licensed landfill sites by simply offloading trash in the middle of the natural environment. As part of this industry, millions of shekels swap hands, sometimes even serving other illegal purposes. Everyone benefits – except, of course, the residents who live near the junkyards, and the environment itself.
In wadis, old quarries, and abandoned fields throughout the Land of Israel, you can find all kinds of waste scattered across the ground: regular garbage, construction waste, electronic waste, and even carcasses of various animals. All this waste affects the topsoil, groundwater, and air quality. Untreated effluents and other materials also cause major, long-term damage to the environment.
Illegal junkyards are active all over Israel – however, they are particularly common in the Negev and Judea & Samaria. In these two areas, a sore lack of effective governance allows for environmental criminals to act without fear of personal consequence. Since Regavim was founded 15 years ago, we have dealt with dozens of illegal junkyards. In a number of cases, we filed petitions that resulted in some junkyards being shut down, while others are still being challenged in the legal realm.
In each case, we make a point to stress that this is an industry; it’s well-planned, organized, environmental abuse. Like with other illegal activity, enforcement and punishment should be carried out to the fullest extent. The hundreds of illegal junkyards throughout Israel must be closed right now!
As a result of our petition, a massive junkyard that was blighting the countryside and polluting the groundwater in the Binyamin region was cleared. Countless wrecks had been piling up for years at an illegal automotive scrapyard near Bir Zeit, polluting topsoil and groundwater with untreated effluents and automotive waste.
About eight months ago, we turned to the Civil Administration to demand the clearance of the illegal junkyard. But the Civil Administration tried to shirk their responsibilities, claiming that enforcement can’t be carried out at “junkyards on private lands”. This was a ridiculous claim and defies the law that explicitly gives the Civil Administration the authority to remove vehicle wrecks from “the public or private domain”. So we had to submit a petition to the Jerusalem District Court to give them a nudge.
And indeed, recently, the Civil Administration issued orders for the owner to clear all the vehicles and to restore the area within 30 days. In recent weeks, the owner removed hundreds, if not thousands, of the old cars and dismantled the illegal garage. We are hopeful that in the coming days and weeks the rest of the area will be cleared, and this environmental hazard will be lifted.
Automotive waste and untreated effluents that pollute the groundwater don’t distinguish between Jewish and Arab lands. Environmental abuse is not a right- or left-wing issue, and doesn’t stop at the Green Line. We shall continue to push for equal law enforcement throughout the Land of Israel, the protection of Israel’s land resources and the environment.