After 14 years, the state informed the High Court Thursday night that it plans to issue a tender for the operation of a sewage treatment plant for the benefit of Ofra, population 3,000, in Mateh Binyamin Regional Council in northern Samaria and five Arab villages.
The state’s updated its response to a petition filed by Green Now and residents of Ofra, and the Tenders Committee of the IDF Civil Administration in the territories approved the documents comprising the tender for the planning, construction, and operation of the Ofra sewage treatment plant, and gave the go-ahead to issue the tender.
According to its website, “Green Now aims to improve the environment in all areas and aspects of Israel without distinction among areas under Israeli control, semi-Israeli, or under the rule of the Palestinian Authority, because pollution has no borders.”
The sewage treatment plant was built by the regional council with state funding back in 2009, but after the construction was finished, it was discovered that the facility was located on private land and its operation was blocked by the High Court of justice in 2011 due to a petition filed by left-wing organizations.
You noted the bizarre fact that for these leftist groups letting one Jewish community and five Arab be mired in their sewage was less important than fighting the “occupation,” right?
The High Court of Justice ordered the facility closed until the state completed the process of acquiring the land from its rightful Arab owners. It took eight years, but by 2019, the expropriation of the area was completed but the facility was not activated. And so, for 11 years since the facility had been available, and 14 years after somebody in Ofra told COGAT, “It really stinks over here, maybe build a sewage treatment plant?” millions of cubic meters of raw sewage from the settlement of Ofra and the nearby Arab villages have flowed and polluted the land, the orchards, and the groundwater.
At a hearing on the Green Now petition two months ago, the justices rebuked the state and expressed shock at the length of the proceedings. How could the state let people live in their own filth for so many years after the previous High Court ruling?
But, you know, the High Court could have ruled in 2011 that the state should start operating the plant while going about acquiring the land. They just didn’t care.
Thank God, when the state asked for another six months delay before the tender is issued, the justices this time rejected the request.