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Although the illegal dump near Isfiya was not the source of the Carmel blaze, it too went up in flames, threatening to emit hazardous materials into the environment.

The Knesset will today address the proliferation of "pirate" garbage dumps around the country. The plenum will be told that more than one-third of the fires that erupt in open areas in Israel are caused by the incineration of waste, which jeopardizes the environment as well as the public's health.

The Jewish National Fund reported that last year nearly one-fifth of the lands it administers were damaged by the incineration of non-agricultural waste. Burning agricultural waste is also a major cause of wildfires.

A document prepared by the Knesset Research and Information Center, which contains this and other information from the JNF and the Israel Fire and Rescue Services, will serve as the basis for today's plenum discussion. The document was submitted to the Knesset's Joint Committee for Health and the Environment, chaired by MK Dov Khenin. The document notes that the Ministry of Environmental Protection does not have specific data on fires in garbage dumps.

The Isfiya site has been operating for many years, but according to Environmental Protection Ministry officials, it has been issued several closure orders, as efforts have been made to institute regular waste removal in the town.

"We've been trying for years to get land for creating an organized waste site," Isfiya Local Council head Waja Kayuf said. "We can't do it unless the Israel Lands Administration allocates land for it and unless the Environmental Protection Ministry gives us financial support."

Near Isfiya and other Druze and Arab communities are waste transfer stations that are often set on fire when they run out of space. Sources in the Green Police say that illegal dumps are created when poor towns, especially in the Arab sector, are incapable of funding proper waste treatment for their communities.

The Environmental Protection Ministry said in a statement that it oversees the waste transfer station in the Arabeh area, whose operators are under investigation for improper management of the site, including fires. The operators recently promised to make sure the site complies with regulations.