The struggle between Haifa city hall and several factories in the city continued Monday morning. Managers at several factories launched a counter-assault to the city’s attempts at a forcible closure, using a crane to force a city truck from the road.
City trucks had been used to block access to four factories accused of heavy air pollution. Haifa mayor Yona Yahav announced Sunday that he plans to close the factories down.
Tensions have been high in Haifa and neighboring cities since the release last week of data showing that rates of cancer are significantly higher in the city than elsewhere in the country. Researchers said the data shows that air pollution from Haifa’s factories is directly responsible for half of the cases of cancer in children living in the area.
Yahav has accused the government of contributing to the problem by refusing to release the names of the factories that release the highest levels of pollution. He, too, has been accused of being part of the problem; some locals say Yahav ignored high cancer rates for years.
On Sunday morning, Yahav spoke at Rambam Hospital and declared, “The government of Israel declared war several days ago on one third of Israelis. And all is fair in war.” He went on to explain that he would be forcibly blocking access to factories until the government approves their closure.
Dozens of residents of Atlit, in the Haifa area, protested Monday morning against the factories. Protesters carried signs reading, “End the Pollution,” and “Stop Poisoning our Children.”