Israeli Greens Halt Construction of Potentially Toxic Army Mega-Base
Construction was halted last week on a new military mega-base being built just 10 kilometers from one of Israel’s worst environmental hazards. Protesters from Green Course, an environmental student organization, met construction crews at the site, while another green organization managed to get a court order temporarily preventing construction.
The new mega-base is meant to shift the army’s training operations to the less developed south of the country. In Israel, army bases are strewn all over the country, sometimes even taking up valuable space in city centers. The plan would entail the evacuation of several bases in more densely populated areas. However, the proposed site of the new mega-base is situated precariously close to a serious environmental nuisance.The facility in question, Ramat Hovav, is a combination industrial area and toxic waste dump, and has been a serious nuisance to residents of Israel’s desert south for years. Nearby Be’er Sheva, one of Israel’s major cities, is periodically plagued by an undefined stench emanating from the facility, while Bedouin tribes living close to the complex are potentially at risk for major health problems, and periodically have to evacuate their homes when something goes wrong at one of the factories.
Green groups argue that putting such a large population of young soldiers in such close proximity to such a potentially dangerous place shows bad judgment on the part of the army and the government, to say the least. However, some local leaders in the south see the base’s construction as an economic boon to the region, and argue that its presence will ensure tighter government regulation of pollution and hazards in its vicinity. Time will tell if the mega-base’s construction will move forward, or if the army will have to consider setting it up elsewhere.