Meretz MK: Remove Asbestos From Demolished Tel Aviv Neighborhood

Hazard left behind after evicted working-class homes were demolished to make way for upscale Tel Aviv housing.

Ofer Vaknin

MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz) called on the Environmental Protection Ministry Wednesday to remove the asbestos left after the demolition of buildings in Tel Aviv’s Givat Amal Bet neighborhood. Gilon’s letter to ministry director general David Leffler called for urgent enforcement measures to be taken to ensure residents’ health. A copy was also sent to Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai.

“I am writing in regard to the asbestos hazard in Givat Amal that is endangering the residents of the complex and the evacuated tenants who are still without adequate housing,” Gilon wrote. “Three months ago, eight families living there were evicted by the Kozinhoff family. But the tycoon and his people left behind exposed asbestos at the site of the demolished homes.”

Gilon notes that the residents and evicted families have already contacted the ministry and the Tel Aviv municipality to complain about the exposed carcinogenic material, but nothing has been done. “The residents must not be abandoned this way, exposed to the serious health hazard left behind by the private tycoons,” he writes.

On Wednesday, Haaretz reported that nearly three months after the evacuation and demolition of the homes of eight families in Givat Amal Bet, broken asbestos panels are still strewn about the area. City inspectors and Environmental Protection Ministry officials have come to the site, but the hazard remains untreated.

The Environmental Protection Ministry says, “An inspector from the Green Police was sent, and in light of the findings, the ministry demanded that the Tel Aviv municipality take care of clearing the hazard, which is its authority and responsibility.” The ministry also says it will consider enforcement measures if the asbestos is not removed.

The Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality says: “The work to dismantle the asbestos in Givat Amal was carried out on the developer’s private property, by a private company, and in accordance with the required permits from the Environmental Protection Ministry. Once a complaint is lodged concerning broken asbestos panels on the developer’s private property, the municipality will immediately look into the matter. If asbestos panels that pose a danger are found, the municipality will take steps to deal with the problem.”

The Kozinhoffs insist through their attorney, Tal Benenson, that they cleared away all the asbestos, as per the law. “All the material connected to us was removed by a special asbestos-removal contractor hired expressly for this purpose.”

Asked how is it, then, that there is still asbestos in the area, Benenson says, “That doesn’t mean it came from us. Maybe they [the residents] went and tossed some asbestos there.”