Pollution? Not Under Our Watch: Protecting the Environment in Judea and Samaria

 

​"If we need to live together on this planet, we all have to take responsibly for it." Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations. There are a number of units in Judea and Samaria that dedicate all their work to the prevention of environmental pollution in the area – among them, the David Unit under the Staff Officer for Environmental Protection and the Supervision Unit at the Civil Administration.

In the Judea and Samaria area, the Civil Administration maintains a number of bodies that are in charge of environmental protection. The first is the 'David Unit', established in January 2014, operating as the enforcement branch of the Ministry of Environmental Protection in the area. The role of the unit is to prevent illegal transfer of waste through the various crossings in Judea and Samaria.

Until 2014, waste contractors and local residents used to dispose of massive quantities of polluting waste that was transferred through crossings in the area. This waste included metals and electronic devices, which were usually burnt after their disposal, resulting in a health hazard. Waste that was not burnt was usually taken to illegal landfills, where it was disposed of in an irresponsible manner, resulting in other environmental hazards, such as water pollution, soil pollution and air pollution. Since its establishment, and as of January 2017, the David Unit has confiscated around 500 trucks containing such hazardous materials, thus preventing the potential pollution by such waste disposal.

 

'The Supervision Unit', responsible for enforcement against illegal activity, also contributes to the protection of the environment, as the only enforcement authority in the area. The unit, with the initiative of Staff Officer for Environmental Protection, established a pilot project aimed at providing a technological solution and response to the hazard created by burning electricity wires in order to produce copper. As part of this project, copper wires were delivered to recycling instead of burning, in order to turn the metals and plastic of the cables back into raw materials. The aim of this project was to minimize waste quantities and air pollution, and to provide an economic benefit to Palestinians employed in the WAFA factory in Hebron, by the recycling of the raw materials. Since the start of the project, more than 20 tons of copper wires have been recycled.

The Environmental Protection Unit at the Civil Administration operates all over Judea and Samaria to protect establish wastewater purification facilities; build and regulate waste disposal sites; and monitor and rehabilitate polluted creeks. "Environmental pollution is a hazard that crosses borders, posing a significant challenge to the Civil Administration and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories," said the staff officer for environmental protection, Mr. Beni Elbaz. "We shall continue to lead and promote environmental projects to protect the environment from pollutions that threaten it."