Israel Pollution Problems

Pollution is a worldwide issue, but some areas have a bigger problem than others. In Israel, industrial and automotive pollution are major problems for the environment and the citizens. According to The Green Zionist Alliance, a nonprofit organization that works to protect the earth and more specifically, Israel, these pollution problems are causing death and major illnesses at higher rates than traffic accidents. Healthline confirms the severity of pollution by pointing out that, “Nearly one in four deaths worldwide can be linked to unhealthy environments”. Pollution is also causing negative, irreversible environmental effects in Israel.

What is the Cause of Pollution in Israel?

  • Unsafe, Unsanitary Sewage and Garbage DisposalIsrael has yet to implement sewage and garbage systems that are adequate enough for the population. Most of the systems are very old and were not intended for such a large, still increasing population. Even still, some areas of Israel have no facilities to treat sewage so it just flows into the valleys.

    Much of Israel’s garbage or solid waste is buried, burned, or left in garbage dumps to rot. When the garbage is burned, it is done so in open-air pits. Very little of the trash is recycled. The handling of garbage is damaging to Israel’s citizens and environments in more ways than one. It adds to the air and water pollution and creates environments to breed flies, rats, and mosquitos.

  • IndustrializationOne of the leading causes of pollution in Israel is industrialization. The cities of Haifa and Ashdod had the biggest problems because they are home to an oil refinery, the Israel Electric Company, and chemical production plants.
  • Automotive PollutionAnother major pollution problem in Israel is caused by automobiles. The city of Jerusalem has grown rapidly in the last 50 years and that has caused an increase in traffic. As you could expect, the rise in traffic also caused a rise in pollution.

    In Israel, private vehicles are more widely used instead of a public transport system. The reason for this is unknown, but with such a high population, it is causing major problems.

Why Pollution has Become Such a Problem

  • Air PollutionIndustrialization, automobiles, and inadequate sewage and garbage disposal systems are the causes of major air pollution in Israel. D’vora Ben-Shaul wrote an article about these problems for the Jewish Virtual Library. Ben-Shaul explained that in Haifa and Ashdod, the levels of sulfur dioxide in the air was so high that it caused health problems for the citizens. Children and elderly citizens were continuously suffering from respiratory problems. Some of these people even die because of the air pollution. One other problem that air pollution causes is trillions of dollars worth of damage to the country.
  • Water Pollution and ShortagesWater pollution has ruined some of the food sources of Israel. Sewage, polluted water, and chemical waste are continuously being dumped into the Mediterranean Sea. In Haifa harbor, the fish have been deemed unconsumable due to high levels of mercury found in the fish.

    The lacking sewage and garbage systems have wreaked havoc on the water supply in Israel. The sewage ends up in rivers, valleys, and sometimes into the sea. The sewage also contaminates the water underground. A mountain of garbage collapsed on the Ayalon River, blocking the flow of the river completely.

    Ben-Shaul, in the same article mentioned before, discussed another issue with the water pollution in Israel. Ben-Shaul mentioned a time when a footbridge collapsed into the Yarkon river and a group of people ended up in the water. Some of those people died and some got sick due to chemical poisoning from the water.

    Because of all this water contamination, Israel is running into an issue where they do not have enough water for drinking. The lack of water is only going to get worse over the years.

  • Threatened Extinction for Animal SpeciesThe pollution in Israel has had devastating impacts on the animals, especially birds. The number of pelicans, cormorants, and starlings in Israel has been dwindling because many crops and water sources have been damaged.


Israel is in an extremely problematic place with pollution. Their citizens are becoming sick or dying, they are running low on drinking water, and their environment seems to be in a steady state of decline.

About the Author
Rachel Brenner is a Professor of Jewish Studies. Her research focuses on Jewish Literature and has published dozens of scholarly articles and book chapters.