Yesterday's Tel Aviv District Court ruling provided a shot of adrenaline to local residents who have filed numerous lawsuits over noise pollution from airplanes at Ben-Gurion International Airport.
The first group of residents that stands to gain from the decision is the thousands of home owners in Kfar Truman, who submitted the original lawsuit a decade ago.
The residents demanded financial compensation for the drop in property value they faced with the construction of Terminal 3. The Israel Airports Authority waged a big campaign against the residents' claims while trying to avoid any responsibility. Ultimately, a district court has not only opted to recognize the rights of the plaintiffs, but also to determine the mechanism through which compensation will be paid.
More communities have joined the ranks of those who have suffered from noise caused not just by aircraft, but also by the attendant construction of runways that began in June of this year.
Holon residents petitioned the High Court of Justice and succeeded in extracting an order that limits air traffic at night. The level of noise affecting the city was not sufficient to warrant compensation for its residents.
Another aggrieved township that joined the legal effort is Modi'in-Reut-Maccabim. Much to the dismay of the IAA, the attorney who handled the first lawsuit in 2001, Avner Yarkoni, is now representing the residents of Holon and Modi'in. Yarkoni was able to convince the court to limit air traffic at night after the IAA submitted in evidence two documents with contradictory claims.
Modi'in residents have a better chance of winning financial compensation than those in Holon did, as the noise level above Modi'in is greater, while night-time flights over Holon have been cut. Airplanes approaching a landing at Ben-Gurion often fly over Modi'in, thus increasing the likelihood of a court-ordered payment.
Aside from the legal aspects of the case, the ruling is an indictment against a public authority whose expert claims have been debunked in court. The court also highlighted the importance of the principle of "the polluter pays," a concept that is accepted in modern jurisprudence.
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