Starting today, Israelis should enjoy a quieter environment after new regulations approved by the Knesset go into effect. The law limits the hours during which construction and renovation work can be done.
Leaf blowers, which cause dust as well as noise, have been outlawed, and restrictions have been imposed on the use of firecrackers and toy gun caps. It will also no longer be possible to install car alarms, bringing to an end one of the biggest urban noise nuisances.
The new regulations are mainly the initiative of the Environmental Protection Ministry, which realized the need to improve the quality of daily life for Israelis, most of whom live in cities. The regulations enjoyed wide public support, and rightfully so.
But the real test will be in the enforcement of the new regulations. For the past few years, Israel has overflowed with progressive environmental legislation, including regulations and laws to prevent air and water pollution and refuse dumping. But experience shows that local authorities have been unsuccessful at efficiently enforcing these laws.
Odors, air pollution and pirate refuse dumps continue to bring down the quality of life in many places. In terms of the new regulations, there is real concern that the local authorities themselves will be an obstacle to enforcement. They have already announced their intention to take legal action to fight the prohibition against leaf blowers.
The local authorities must work to enforce the new laws and find an alternative to the leaf blowers out of an understanding that the quality of people's lives is more important than using equipment that is a nuisance to so many.
The local authorities must use the powers they have been given to enforce environmental laws, and help give teeth to the new regulations by quickly responding to residents' complaints.
It is also incumbent on the Environmental Protection Ministry to become involved in an efficient and consistent way of checking that the new regulations are followed. It must also work toward dealing with more major noise nuisances coming from aircraft and vehicles. Israelis live in a small, crowded country, and they deserve to have as little noise as possible.
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