Israeli Court Orders IMI Head to Testify in Groundwater-pollution Case

Although the groundwater and surface water pollution was discovered about 20 years ago, this will be the first time IMI executives will be forced to testify.

Zafrir Rinat
Zafrir Rinat
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Zafrir Rinat
Zafrir Rinat

The head of Israel Military Industries has received a court order to testify about the worst groundwater pollution in Israel, which geological surveys have shown to be connected to IMI's operations in the Ramat Hasharon area.

Although the groundwater and surface water pollution was discovered about 20 years ago, this will be the first time IMI executives will be forced to testify. No date has been set for the court appearance of the current CEO, Avi Felder, or his predecessor, Shlomo Milo, who has also been ordered to testify at the Central District Court.

"After I examined the request and the responses of the parties, I reached the conclusion that the testimony of the people who did and do hold senior positions in IMI, or are and were associated with the matters at hand, could be important," said Judge Achikam Stoler in his ruling. Some of the polluting agents include explosives and rocket fuel, the geological surveys have shown.

Responding to a complaint that the request for the executives' testimony was filed late, Stoler said there was no choice but to accede to the request for their testimony, despite the timing of that request.

The testimony will be part of a lawsuit by the Ramat Hasharon municipality seeking NIS 90 million from IMI and the state to compensate for expenses the city incurred in building pipelines from the national water carrier rather than continuing to use local wells that were found to be polluted.

That sum is separate from the NIS 11 million the government agreed last week to allocate to review various pollution-treatment technologies. The government has also committed to paying NIS 600 million to treat the pollution, but the treasury has yet to decide which ministries will have to foot the bill, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.

The lawsuit was filed two years ago by Ramat Gan lawyer Gidi Frishtik, who argues that the testimony of Felder and Milo is necessary because, between the two of them, they are closely acquainted with IMI's activities since 1995.

The state and IMI's lawyers opposed having Felder and Milo testify in court, arguing that their testimony would not provide relevant information, which would instead be provided by the experts who dealt with environmental issues.

A defunct IMI plant said to have contaminated the ground.Credit: Guy Raivitz
Residents demonstrating against massive groundwater pollution caused by Israel Military Industries outside the defense contractor’s plant in Ramat Hasharon.Credit: Nir Keidar



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