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In the past six months officers of the Environmental Protection Ministry's Green Police temporarily confiscated driver's licenses of 23 people who used their vehicles to illegally dump waste.

The figure, which appears in the annual report of the ministry's legal bureau, demonstrates the agency's efforts to beef up it what is often viewed as its lax treatment of environmental offenders.

An amendment an anti-dumping law that went into effect in May 2010 gives the ministry the authority to suspend driver's licenses and impound vehicles used to commit environmental offenses.

The 23 drivers were deprived of the use of their vehicles for three days after being caught illegally dumping. According to the report, the ministry's legal bureau processed 440 cases last year, nearly half of which involved illegal dumping. Of 88 cases that ended up in court, only five ended in acquittal.

In one case cited in the report, an Acre man asked the city's magistrate's court to cancel the suspension of his vehicle on the grounds that it caused him great economic harm.

The judge denied the request, noting in the decision: "I found no cause to use my authority to reduce the period of suspension. Economic harm to the car's owner cannot justify such a move in light of the fact that the motivation for committing the offense is purely economic."

The report also noted that last year the legal bureau began drawing up guidelines for handling sponsorship requests it receives.

Last year, 34 applications for commercial sponsorships were submitted to the bureau. In addition to cooperating with "Kochav Nolad," the Israeli version of "American Idol," the ministry permitted billionaire businesswoman Shari Arison to post a video clip about sustainability on its website, and also allowed Intel to advertise there.