Let’s start from the end. we won
A few years ago I founded a small initiative called Roim Shachor Ba’Eynaim (We See Pitch Black). The idea was to organize citizens affected by significant environmental pollutions for a class action lawsuit against the polluter. Erin Berkovich Style, only voluntarily. I filed the first claim around the Evrona disaster. The big spill of oil and fuels in the reserve, at the southern Negev desert turned my rage mode on and I thought that someone must be accountable for it. I organized several hundred local residents, whose life were effected by the spilling, and with a group of amazing environmental lawyers the lawsuit was filed. It took several years, but a compromise of 100 million NIS was settled and paid for the rehabilitation of Evrona and the surrounding area. An amazing victory.
In 2017, there was another unprecedented disaster, a huge contamination of the Deadsea area, for which the Rotem Ampert company from ICL was responsible. Acid was spilled into Ashalim valley, killing tens of Gazellas, contaminating the area for many years. Local tour operators were effected, schools, and so on. Again I organized locals, which was harder as Rotem Ampert is one of the biggest job providers in the area, but in the end I succeeded. I also managed to arrange, with the help of volunteers, a file with evidence of mishaps by Rotem Ampert and handed it to the lawyers. We filed a class action 400 million NIS, two more separate class actions joined us later on and the lawsuit was unified to one.
The story gets complicated when the state of Israel claimed that citizens had no right to file a class action lawsuit on environmental issues. Legally, only to the state. I connected several groups of interest – NPOs, parliamentary aids, and others – we met in my office and it was agreed that an effort should also be made to change the Penal law, so this will be changed. While I was not involved in the parliamentary process, something the team of former MK Yael Cohen Paran and former MK Dov Hanin was responsible for, I gave whatever support I could. They are heroes. The law was changed just before the fall of the government at the time. The way for the filing of civil class action lawsuits on environmental issues by citizens was paved. A big win.
As I mentioned above, Assaf Fink and the other lawyers agreed on the consolidation of the lawsuits, and entered mediation process, with Rotem Ampert. The state joined in as well. I followed from afar. In my perspective, my role ended for me with the filing of the lawsuit. A catalysator of events. Over the years I debated with myself whether to act with Roim Shachor Ba’Eynaim a few more times, but I didn’t find a big or significant enough event, that needed an organizer as I. I devoted myself to make Darkenu stronger, my private business and my family.
This morning, after I dropped off my firstborn in kindergarten, a push notification popped on my phone, announcing a compromise in the Ashalim disaster. 115 Million NIS, the largest sum ever in environmental class actions, higher than Evrona case, was announced. I burst into tears. It is a moment of significant victory. As part of the settlement, a fund is to be established for the restoration of the environment. The polluter took responsibility. MAJOR WIN
The long road that led to this victory was taken by many people who helped, who got involved, by locals who dared despite the municipality’s complex relationship with ICL. By parliamentary assistants and Knesset members, and by many who supported and expressed genuine care. I feel great pride that I had a part in this victory. I am proud that the activists In Israel continue despite all the challenges. I believe that an NPO focused on environmental class actions needs and should be established. To file and organize and attack. I am ready to talk about it with anyone who wants to help make it happen.
But prior that, it’s a moment to bask in success. In the end it will be really good here. And I hope so for everyone who lives here, in this blessed land.
Let’s start from the end. we won