Israel Military Industries (IMI), which for years has had armament factories located close to dense population areas and as such has polluted area groundwater, is now on its way to exposing its environmental footprint even further. The organization is planning to build a large military hardware and armaments factory in an area full of rare and endangered wild plants. Although Israel’s military has tried to reduce its carbon and ecological footprint by trying to “go green” and translate military secrets into clean technology the practice of building large armament factories near major population centers is now going to be expanded by building another armament factory and a housing project in an area near a present one close to the upscale suburban communities of Ramat Hasharon, Herzliya and Hod Hasharon, according to the JPost.
The land involved is a 746 hectare (1,830 acre) area located in the South Sharon region which is bordered by the three above-mentioned communities. The land contains a number of rare and endangered wild plant species that include holy orchids, crown anemones, snake tongue orchids, but common gladiolus, sun’s-eye tulips, field lupins, hyacinth squills and pink butterfly orchids. There is also French lavender, Italian medick, snail medick, galium philistaeum, smooth cat’s ear, maresia nana, European umbrella milkwort, spotted rockrose, yellow lupin and Labillardiere’s clover.
The slated project will also include 23,000 housing units that will be built on open land. 466 hectares will be located inside IMI security fencing, meaning it will be used for purposes other than housing. Objections to the project are being led by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, SPNI, whose wildlife coordinator, Moshe Perlmutter, says that due to the fact that natural areas have shrunk considerably in this region, due to constant development, “it is crucial to ensure the preservation of the natural area remaining in the Sharon IMI [Israel Military Industries] complex at a level of utmost importance”.
Being a very small country, Israel does not have a lot space available for building heavy industries, especially those of a military nature. One area of logic for building armament factories near major population areas is to ensure accessibility by employees who live in these areas. Another SPNI idea in regards to this particular project is to designate part of the available land for a nature park for not only providing recreation for IMI employees as well as other people living nearby, but also for preservation of some of the rare plant species.
Says SPNI’s Perlmutter: “The planners of this project have the unparalleled opportunity to preserve and nurture natural and continuous lands and to create a designated and uniquely vast nature park, to which there is nothing similar in the country’s Center, which will constitute a ‘Garden of Eden’ for the existence of many wild plants, some of which are endangered.”
Military projects in other locations have occasionally been geared toward helping to preserve natural habitats. One project in particular is a sewage water treatment plant at the IDF’s Nevatim Air Force Base in the Negev where purified water is being used to irrigate a nature park being built near the city of Beer Sheva. Another green IDF project is a special green training base where water recycling and renewable energy is being incorporated into training to make IDF officers and enlisted personnel more conscious of working with the environment .
It remains to be seen what the final outcome will be regarding the new IDF Ramat HaSharon area project. It now is in the hands of the Israel Lands Administration (ILA) regarding re-zoning the land for this project. But, if this is an example of other projects regarding the IDF, the military usually gets its way.
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