The Israeli and Arab residents of Israel's Triangle area, who have been complaining for years about various environmental hazards in the area, mainly air pollution, now have a new thing to worry about: Plans to build a new industrial zone in Qalansuwa.
The Triangle is a concentration of Israeli Arab towns and villages adjacent to located in the eastern Hasharon region. The area falls under the jurisdiction of both the Central District and Haifa District. The Lev Hasharon Regional Council, which is most affected by the area's pollution, has filed a petition against the move.
The area's residents – Jews and Arabs alike – have been complaining about massive air pollution plaguing the area, due to charcoal production kilns and illegal trash burning. They now fear that the new industrial zone, which has been earmarked for heavy industries, will make a bad situation worse.
"We suffer from environmental terror. No one cares and there's no law enforcement," Danit Klein, who lives in one of the council's communities, told Ynet.
Klein said that the Lev Hasharon Regional Council has teamed with the Qalansuwa municipality in effort to thwart the plans to build an industrial zone.
The issue of pirate trash burning has been bothering the area's residents for years. "We've become experts on garbage," said one of them. "We can tell the trash apart by the smell it emits when they burn it."
Klein said that when it comes to illegal trash burning, the area seems to be lost in red tape: "The stench is unbelievable. The agricultural lands nearby have become trash burning sites for everything – construction waste, asbestos and everything else.
"The council says it can't do anything because it's not within its jurisdiction, and the Environmental Protection Ministry, the police and the fire department can't deal with it. We live in Israel, but we feel like we're in a Third-World country," she said.
The Arab residents of the area echoed the distress: "It's hard to understand why authorities don’t enforce the law," Ali Issa, a resident of Kafr Qassem, told Ynet.
"They burn trash here every day, with no regards to our health. The situation is intolerable."
Issa's neighbor, Malik Farij, added: "Trucks come from all over to dump their trash here. Instead of increasing awareness (authorities) give them the green light to dump trash illegally."
Kafr Qassem's mayor's office said that "The village has been suffering from both Arabs and Jews illegally dumping trash for years. We do what we can to prevent this phenomenon, but we lack the resources to fight it.
"The main issue here is that we lack enforcement and our finances don't allow us to fund a private inspector to enforce the law. We believe the Environmental Protection Ministry should do that."
The City of Qalansuwa was unavailable for comment.
The Environmental Protection Ministry issued the following statement: "The Environmental Protection Ministry's Green Police has increased its patrols of the area in question.
Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan is promoting legislation to make illegal trash burning a criminal offense.
"The ministry has asked the Interior Ministry to weigh in on local authorities' trash collection protocols, especially in the inefficacious municipalities, which lack the proper waste disposal infrastructure. Without the Interior Ministry's intervention, solving the problem is impossible.
"Additionally, the Environmental Protection Ministry has launched an awareness campaign in Arabic , with aim of raising awareness to the health and environmental hazards associated with trash burning."
The ministry added that no environmental impact study was filed prior to the beginning of construction of the Qalansuwa industrial zone and that the local zoning committee is pursuing the work's suspension.
The Interior Ministry said it will address the petition in court.