06/13/2012 03:12
“The IDF is disregarding the government decision and bases continue to pollute water and land resources,” Erdan said.

Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan slammed Defense Minister Ehud Barak for failing to connect most of the 150 IDF bases and camps to the country’s sewage systems, two years after the government approved plans to do so, the Environmental Protection Ministry announced on Tuesday.

“The IDF is disregarding the government decision and bases continue to pollute water and land resources,” Erdan said in a statement released by his office.

Government Decision #1770 in June 2010 stipulated that 191 army bases and camps would be connected to the sewage networks, with 150 of these sites being connected in the first stage of implementation, the minister’s letter said. To date, however, only 15 of these bases have been connected to sewage infrastructure, and severe pollution is still emanating from many, according to Erdan.

“[What] if the IDF was operating at this pace when it came to purchasing of weapons?” Erdan said. “The government already understood that water and land sources are no less important, because otherwise there would be nothing here to defend. The Defense Ministry has yet to reach this insight it seems.”

Meanwhile, the letter charged that only 11 of the 150 first-stage camps and only 19 of the total 191 were located in Judea and Samaria, leaving about 40 additional bases in the West Bank region untended. None of the 11 Judea and Samaria bases slated for connection have been as of yet, although the groundwater in this region is incredibly sensitive to contamination, Erdan wrote.

The contamination created as a result is an environmental disturbance that causes both the Jewish and Palestinian populations in the area to suffer, he added.

Erdan therefore demanded that the Defense Ministry present its work plan for all 150 bases on the preliminary list, plus the seven additional bases in the West Bank, so that all 18 sites in that region would be connected immediately.

Due to the urgency to reduce sewage contamination in Judea and Samaria, Erdan wrote that officials in his ministry have already checked with Civil Administration representatives to determine the feasibility of the job. In response, the representatives informed his officials that connection to sewage infrastructure at the bases is permitted as long as there is an organized plan and financing – which is being supplied by the Environmental Protection Ministry, according to Erdan.

“Barak continues in his policies against settlements in Judea and Samaria and delays connection of IDF bases in Judea and Samaria based on budgetary excuses, even though the program is budgeted,” Erdan said.

Replying to the Environmental Protection Ministry’s allegations, the Defense Ministry said that connections have already occurred at 35 different bases and camps, and that the ministry has already conducted widespread infrastructural surveys at 173 sites.

The office is currently in the process of negotiating connections for additional bases and camps to the sewage network, according to a statement from the Defense Ministry. An estimation from Defense Ministry staff predicted that all connection work would be concluded, as agreed upon in the decision, by 2015.

“The Defense staff is working tirelessly to connect the IDF bases and camps to the sewage systems and will meet the five-year target [to 2015], as defined in the plan that was formulated in full coordination with the Environmental Protection Ministry and was approved by the government of Israel,” the Defense Ministry said.