Hod Hasharon is perhaps one of the cities in Israel most favored by young couples for its quality residential projects, shopping centers and parks. But the story of one abandoned allotment at its very heart demonstrates that even Hod Hasharon cannot escape the affliction of environmental negligence, which is so prevalent in the country.
The allotment on Hachsharot Street is partly privately owned and partly the property of the Israel Lands Administration. It could have been a green space for the residents, but has slowly turned into an unlicensed garbage dump.
Just entering the place soon leaves you surrounded by construction waste, with a truck coming in every so often with a fresh pile. Here and there among the heaps lie crumpled sheets of asbestos, a serious health hazard.
The wasteland also endangers a potential source of drinking water, as it contains a drilling site for drinking water, which is owned by the Kfar Hadar Water Association and has been shut down because of pollution. Tests have since shown the water is clean once again, but drilling may still be banned because of the surrounding construction waste.
A frequent visitor to the site is Amir Tawili, owner of Amir the Redhead dumping service, who is accused by environmental sources of being responsible for most of the construction waste there.
Tawili does not legally own the allotment, but he and his family treat is as their own, or so it seems to a questioning intruder. Tawili told Haaretz he was engaged in legal proceedings to determine his rights to the lot and meanwhile uses it to store and transfer waste. "I bring some waste here, but then I move it to a regular, licensed site. Whatever stays here is not mine," he said. "Let the municipality find me another site for temporary waste storage, and I'll be Hod Hasharon's waste minister. Do you think I enjoying doing it here, next to residences in the city center?"
Tawili's nemesis is Yaniv Green of the Ra'anana regional environmental protection unit. "I gave him several reports for illicit dumping, and I've yet to see any proof he moves this waste to any licensed site," he said. According to Green, responsibility now rests with the Ramat Hasharon local council. "I've pretty much given up, because of problems in cooperating with city hall. They have the authority to issue an order to clear the ground and the authority to enforce the order."
If the local council doesn't take action, says Green, he will appeal to the Environmental Protection Ministry to intervene.
The Hod Hasharon municipality said in a statement that the lot "was not public, but owned by the water association and the ILA. They are obliged to clean the area, and we're sorry to hear that instead of taking appropriate action, one of the owners is attempting to put responsibility on city hall. Still, the city is pursuing the matter, and last week municipal and Environmental Protection Ministry officials toured the site to check what further action can be taken."
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