A Nature Friendly IDF

The IDF (Zahal) follows its fundamental values as it establishes an environment department and initiates nature friendly projects to reuse water, conserve energy and more

Date: 01/02/2011, 8:29 PM     Author: Rotem Eliav

The growing environmentalist efforts in the IDF (Zahal) are relatively new, though they are undeniably compatible with its ideology. The core concept of loving and protecting the homeland and its citizens has been entrenched in the IDF (Zahal) since its inception, and cannot be fully accomplished without concern for the environment.

Concern for the environment emerged in the Northern Command, when gasoline from one of the bases contaminated water supply of a nearby town, Rosh Pina, in 2003.

“We heard our oils might cause pollution,” explains Northern Command Environment Head, Chief Warrant Officer Roni Menachem, “but we never took it seriously till it caused a tangible threat. These people opened their faucets and drank gasoline because of our carelessness. That’s a wakeup call that keeps you up at night. We realized that protecting our country means thwarting security threats as well as preventing environmental deterioration.”

As a result of the crisis, Chief Warrant Officer Menachem, at the time part of the Northern Command Logistics Department, remedied the problem and began moving the environment issue ahead, at first alone and, later, with both assistance and substantial funding after which the department grew to cover the whole army.

Today, the Northern Command’s environment department alone receives between 10-15 million shekels a year just for nature friendly projects. The command has a detailed work plan of these projects and their funding through 2025.

“The vision of the command is to protect the northern border, while preserving nature and environmental trademarks,” adds the Northern Command Environment Head, “to become a Green Command.”

The command received several awards for its efforts, both from the Minister of Environmental Protection and the Chief of the General Staff. Of the most notable projects is ensuring tanks reuse the same nature friendly routs to avoid destroying more land, especially archeological sites and protected flowers. During every exercise, there are soldiers responsible for picking up waste. Additionally the command closed 28 contaminated gas stations and adopted methods and tools to both prevent and clean oil spills in the field.

Army-wide projects, which are receiving a subsidy of one billion shekels over the span of 15 years, include saving water by monitoring watering of gardens, reducing use of flowing water and hoses for cleaning and employing machines that allow reuse of water. Constant improvement and replacement of infrastructures will also prevent water contamination. Use of spill containment pallets prevents oil spills. Other IDF (Zahal) projects focus on conserving resources and energy and recycling wastes.

“We have no other country,” explains Chief Warrant Officer Roni Menachem. “We must protect it and preserve it for our children and grandchildren, so that they can live in a greener world.”