This is not the first time that KKL-JNF has taken a stand against the garbage truck drivers, who throw out domestic garbage or construction waste in the forest. The numbers have recently reached record heights. During the past month about 160 tons of domestic waste have been disposed of in Yatir Forest, a site that is a significant green lung for the Negev and a bustling tourist attraction all week long.
In addition, Yatir Forest is critically important in terms of sand dune migration and mitigating the desertification effect that threatens Israel. For this reason it is important to understand that garbage damages the soil, the trees and the animals that live in the forest, along with creating a serious ecological problem.
According to KKL-JNF staff in the field, who monitor and try to bring the garbage truck offenders to justice, most of the garbage trucks come from Israel’s central region. KKL-JNF believes that the reason for the disposing of the garbage in Yatir Forest is apparently in order to save travel time to landfill sites in the south, along with saving the cost of garbage burial, which can come to thousands of shekels for each truck.
According to KKL-JNF Yatir Bloc Forester Abed Abu-Alkqiyan, who is very familiar with this subject, his job as a forester is “first and foremost to protect and care for the forest itself. Every week my team and I go to the forest and see new piles of garbage that were thrown out. We try to catch the offenders, but they’re usually active during the late hours of the night, so it’s difficult to catch them red-handed. Unfortunately, we have reports that local residents from the south help them get rid of their garbage in the forest.”
This week a major catastrophe was averted when anonymous persons set piles of garbage on fire after an interview with Abed Abu-Alkqiyan was aired on Channel 10. A fire spotter in the forest observation tower located the fire in time and summoned a team with a fire truck, and together with a nearby power shovel, they succeeded in putting the fire out.
The dedicated forester, who has been dealing with the problem of garbage in the forest, also asked for help from visitors and local residents who live nearby. “If anyone sees a garbage truck entering the forest, please report it immediately to the local authorities, KKL-JNF or the police – the forest belongs to us all and we must all protect it.”