Knesset Passes Environmental Enforcement Law

April 1, 1997

In a move designed to “make the polluter pay,” according to Environment Minister Raphael Eitan (shown in the photo planting a tree on Tu Bishevat in 1995), the Knesset passed the environmental enforcement law, which provides clout for enforcing existing pollution and litter standards.  Previous attempts at enforcing environmental laws were unsuccessful in deterring violators due to low fines and little enforcement.

The law created substantial fines for violations of noise and air pollution and for illegally disposing of hazardous materials.  In cases involving a commercial vehicle illegally dumping materials, both the operator of the vehicle as well as the company could have their licenses revoked.

The Environmental Enforcement Law was hailed by environmentalists who saw it as a necessary step in giving teeth to the enforcement of environmental offenses.  The week before the new law was passed, the Environment Ministry released a new marketing slogan, “People who litter are trash!”  Despite some criticism of the harshness of the proposed fines (300,000 shekels for air, noise or smell pollution and 600,000 shekels for hazardous waste), Eitan stressed that these measures brought Israel more in line with the most advanced countries in terms of protecting the environment.