ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 147

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Wreckage of Sderot police station destroyed on Oct. 7 found dumped in nature reserve

Order was given to demolish police station after it was overrun by terrorists; police equipment found abandoned in wilderness as part of growing wave of construction waste crimes

A fabric showing the insignia of the Israel Police found in rubble from the Sderot police station that was moved into a nature reserve north of the city, February 2024 (Courtesy)
A fabric showing the insignia of the Israel Police found in rubble from the Sderot police station that was moved into a nature reserve north of the city, February 2024 (Courtesy)

The Sderot police station, overrun on October 7 by Hamas terrorists who killed 35 officers and civilians there, has suffered yet another sad ending.

After the terrorists barricaded themselves inside the police station and the site became the focus of fierce gun battles with Israeli forces for a number of hours, the order was given to demolish the building with tank fire and a military wheel loader and the attackers were eventually killed.

But now, the ruins of the station have been found dumped in the wilderness between Sderot and Kibbutz Or HaNer, where they constitute an environmental hazard.

An environmental activist was passing through the area when he noticed a large amount of construction waste by the side of the road.

He inspected the pile from close up and began burrowing through it to figure out its origin.

He was shocked to find the remains of police equipment and a certificate belonging to Chief Superintendent Dvir Arubas, the commander of the Sderot station who fought against terrorists on October 7 and survived.

A man walks past the Sderot police station, which was destroyed during battles to dislodge Hamas gunmen inside, on October 8, 2023. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP)

“It’s awful,” an official involved in nature protection said. “First, because you know what the building was and what its story was and the fact that someone threw its ruins in the middle of nowhere, and also because of the environmental damage – this is an ecological corridor and a protected reserve.

“This is right by the anemone flower grounds of Or HaNer where a lot of visitors are supposed to arrive in the coming days. Even though Darom Adom was canceled, a lot of people come to this area north of Sderot,” the official said, referring to Red South, an annual flower festival.

A certificate belonging to Sderot police station commander Dvir Arubas, February 2024 (Courtesy)

The police said they were surprised to discover what had happened to the station and noted that the Sderot municipality was responsible for the disposal.

“After the police decided to destroy the station and everything inside, they asked the city for assistance.” Yaron Sasson, the Sderot city hall spokesman, told Zman Yisrael, The Times of Israel’s Hebrew-language sister site.

“A contractor we work with arrived and it was decided he would be responsible for both the demolition and the removal of the police station. It’s important to note that this all happened during the fourth or fifth day of the war, all while under rocket fire and during a state of emergency,” Sasson said.

“When the contractor removed the ruins, he was told that a sapper must go over them to ensure there are no munitions within them, and only after the sapper gave approval could the debris be taken to [a large landfill in the south],” he said.

“Unfortunately, we found out afterward that the contractor threw the wreckage illegally of his own initiative into an area of nature that was probably the closest and most convenient for him. The police are now dealing with the issue because a sapper must now again check the ruins before taking them to the landfill.”

The Environmental Ministry’s “Green Police” have begun an investigation into the incident.

Even taking the war’s difficult conditions into consideration, this is an example of the growing phenomenon of construction waste delinquency.

Construction waste can be seen dumped in nature reserves throughout the country.

Some contractors, when hired to remove waste, instead of taking it to an approved site – where they pay per ton – they stop in the countryside, drop it off, and drive off without a trace.

Rubble from the Sderot police station left in the wilderness north of the city, February 2024 (Courtesy)

Legislation drafted by the Environmental Protection Ministry would require garbage trucks to be installed with GPS systems so the waste can be tracked, which would largely resolve what is fast becoming a national crisis. But it’s waiting for approval in the Knesset Environmental Committee, where a hearing on the bill has been delayed repeatedly.

After what happened to the Sderot police station, the destroyed buildings from the kibbutzim near the Gaza border could be next in line.

This article was first published in Hebrew, on The Times of Israel’s sister site Zman Yisrael.

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