Israel Suffers From Health, Environmental Characteristics of Developing World

The Green umbrella organization in Israel, Life and Environment, states in its latest report that Israel suffers from many of the health and environmental characteristics of the developing world, even though the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is expected to offer it a place in its prestigious club for developed nations.

The organization also notes that there are still neighborhoods in main cities of Israel where living conditions resemble those of 1950s immigrant shanty towns.

The Monitoring Committee for Environmental Justice, which prepared the report on behalf of the umbrella group, will present it to the Knesset today. This year's report, the third of its kind, focuses mostly on issues pertaining to urban areas.

According to the report, there are large urban areas that are cut off from any water supply because of economic difficulties, and whose residents are not consulted about urban planning.

The authors of the report also describe shantytowns, where people live in homes made of tin planks, lacking in roads and sidewalks, with livestock nearby, and with no sewage or garbage collection services. The report points to cities with mixed populations, such as Lod and Acre, as being particularly prone to such conditions.

According to the report, there is no permanent sewage infrastructure in 70 percent of the Arab communities, and some of these towns are cut off from a regular water supply for periods of up to three to four days due to overdue debts to Mekorot, the national water carrier.

In Ramle and Bnei Berak, for example, garages and chop-shops are situated next to residential buildings.

The authors of the report also point to vast differences between neighborhoods in Tel Aviv. In northern Tel Aviv, there are 15 square meters of green spaces for every resident, compared with neighborhoods in the south where the average is between zero and four square meters per person.

In south Tel Aviv and Jaffa, there are areas where the noise pollution levels are particularly acute, reaching as high as 50 percent above that permissible by law. This involves neighborhoods along the Ayalon Highway, and the area of the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv.

The report details the story of the Barbour neighborhood in Acre, which lacks infrastructure such as sidewalks, lighting and properly marked roads. It also uses an open sewer, the garbage accumulates in large piles, and there is animal manure from the livestock that is kept nearby.

Because the garbage is not collected for long periods of time, the residents are reduced to burning it, causing dangerous polluting gases to be released.

The neighborhood had no parks or playgrounds, and the children are under constant danger of being hit by passing cars.