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Israel: Law on Inspection and Enforcement Authorities for Environmental Protection

(Apr. 28, 2011) On March 28, 2011, the Knesset (Israel's Parliament) passed the Environmental Protection (Inspection and Enforcement Authorities) Law, 5771-2011. The Law states as its goal the protection, maintenance, and improvement of the quality of the environment and the prevention of harm to the environment and to public health, by defining and extending the inspection and enforcement authorities of employees of the Ministry of Environment Protection. The significance of the Law seems to be its comprehensive application to a long list of existing Israeli laws, specified in its addendum, that provide protection to the environment and to public health. Thus, the Law establishes a unified system of enforcement authority for current Israeli legislation in this area and may facilitate the determination of similar enforcement authority in future environmental legislation.

The Law authorizes the Minister of Environmental Protection to appoint inspectors for the investigation of violations of environmental laws. The Law further provides the inspectors with supervision and enforcement authority. Accordingly, they are authorized to request any person to provide identification and any relevant information and documents, conduct measurements, and take samples, as well as to enter any facility or vehicle for the performance of their jobs. Supervisors, however, are authorized to enter residential areas only with a judicial warrant.

Inspectors are further authorized to interrogate suspects and persons who may have information regarding offenses under the Law, seize any item connected to such offenses, and request search warrants when necessary. They may also detain persons who either refuse to cooperate, are suspected of planning to flee if not detained, or whose identities are unknown, until the arrival of a police officer.

When carrying out their authority under the Law, inspectors must wear identifiable clothing, carry ID, and possess a document signed by the Minister testifying to their jobs and authority; this document must be presented upon request. Inspectors are excused from the latter requirement if it could hamper the exercise of their authority or harm the safety of the inspectors or any other persons.

The Law further regulates environmental protection inspection and enforcement authority in the state and homeland security system and lists some exceptions to entry, collection of information and documents, and seizure authority in such facilities. (Environmental Protection (Inspection and Enforcement Authorities) Law, 5771-2011, & bill [both in Hebrew], the Knesset website (both visited Apr. 26, 2011).)