After two years of debates, Haifa District Court proposed a compromise settlement to 92 members of an elite navy unit and the dozens of factories and authorities they sued for causing the pollution in the Kishon River that they claim made them seriously sick.
Judge Adi Zarankin proposed the claimants and their families accept compensation totaling NIS 14 million ($3.9 million) to be paid by the more than 40 defendants, without requiring them to admit their responsibility for the damage caused to the soldiers.
Haifa's Kishon River has become infamous in Israel for the extremely high levels of pollution due, allegedly, to industry in the area. Many soldiers in the navy have become seriously sick, apparently from working in the polluted waters of the river, and this case has been ongoing for many years.
The claimants, except for 33 who passed away before the legal proceedings had come to an end, expressed their resentment, saying the proposal was unrealistic and "insulting." Their legal representation, Attorney Moshe Kaplansky, agreed. "This is a worthless sum," he said. "It means that each of the defendants will pay NIS 3,749 ($1,040) to each claimant. There is no logic to this proposal."
Daniel Marcus, son of David Marcus who died from cancer, said the proposal was the result of the fact that the judge feared the defendants. "It's a reflection of Israeli reality," he said. "Crime families brutally control the State and also the courts."
Apart from the compensation, members of the families affected emphasized it was important the factories accept responsibility for the high levels of pollution in the Kishon River.
"It’s not the money," Marcus said. "It's a problem of wriggling out of responsibility. They educated me and the others in the values which form the basis of this State. Today they don't exist, and only money remains."
Unlike the defendants, Marcus said, the State had accepted responsibility, and family members of those who died due to the illnesses they say were caused by the pollution are categorized as IDF widows and orphans, entitling them to various benefits.
The court granted the sides 30 days to submit their decision regarding the proposal.
In another case concerning pollution in the Kishon River, 42 fishermen who claim they fell sick from the pollution were offered a settlement by Judge Ron Shapira. The claimants were offered a total of NIS 3 million ($0.83 million), but they rejected the deal.