Our environmentally focused projects involve diverse communities in Israel and the West
Bank, including Jews, Muslims and Christians, Bedouin, Druze and immigrant communities, and may be
Israel and the West Bank. These projects include work where we have provided expertise and/or funding.
Our partners include organizations that we have been or are currently working with, and organizations
with which we are discussing future opportunities. All of our environmental projects are part of our Environmentally
Sustainable Projects initiative. SIPP's non-environmentally focused civil
society-building projects can be found here.
Environmental Education Center - Idhna (near Hebron) - ESP Grant Recipient 2018 to Present
In Idhna, a small community on the outskirts of Hebron, the Green
Land Society for Health Development (GLSHD) has established the Environmental
Education Center to demonstrate and educate about how plastics, tires, and other discarded
materials can be refurbished and recycled. The Environmental Education Center provides
workshops for area schools as well as occupational safety training for people working with
hazardous materials (such as metals associated with electronic equipment. )
In 2018, SIPP was able to provide the Green Land Society for Health Development with a modest grant to help support operational costs, and brought GLSHD's Director to Boulder in 2019 to learn about US environmental education and recycling practices. He met with numerous organizations and observed environmental curricula taught to elementary and middle school students.
Between November 2018 and February 2019, supported by a grant from SIPP, approximately
300 students from 12 area schools visited the Center. The school visits included
lectures, hands-on activities, and student competitions. Importantly, most of the
schools committed to incorporating some of the recycling concepts back in their
The Center also created several "new" projects to demonstrate how waste materials can be turned into functional and/or artistic items. These include chairs and tables (discarded wood), play structure (discarded wood, tires and scrap metal), and a plastic tree (discarded nylon bags and plastic containers).
In 2020, the Center created a environmental curriculum (see link) and enhanced its hands-on interactive displays. With SIPP's assistance, the Center recently obtained a biogas digester to demonstrate how organic waste can be converted to cooking methane and plant fertilizer.
The Center, in parternship with SIPP, the Boulder Rotary Club and the Jerusalem Rotary Club, is also launching a computer refurbishing center to divert old computers from disposal and illicit metal reclamation (open burning).
- Avifaunal and Flora Study - ESP Grant Recipient 2019
In the Kidron/Nar Basin, just east of Jerusalem, SIPP is working with the Nature Palestine Society, and the Amuta for Education and Health in Israel, to catalog local bird and plant species as part of a larger effort to promote environmental awareness and eco-tourism in this part of the West Bank.
Both Israeli and Palestinian ornithologists are involved in this effort. The larger project will include a constructed wetlands along with a bird blind/observation area, as well as marked nature trails. The bird and plant study will add to the overall knowlege of wildlife in the area and produce a guide for local communities.
During the study, which will run through 2019, unusual bird and plant species will be identified and cataloged. Two reports will be produced: an academic-quality report and a shorter lay-person report. These will provide information that will be used in developing marked nature trails in an around Ubeidya and near the Mar Saba Monastery.
Waste - Open Burning2017
Discarded, off-spec, and other materials containing circuit boards, cables and electronics
from Palestinian and Israeli sources, are processed in several small villages near
Hebron. The processing includes refurbishing/reselling products, and also harvesting
metals for scrap value. Harvesting often involves open burning of circuit boards,
cables, etc. which releases toxins into the air, water, and soil, creating a hazard for
workers and local residents, regardless of borders. The Green Land Society for Health Development (GLSHD) has documented elevated blood-levels of heavy metals in the local Palestinian population, as well as elevated levels of miscarriages.
In 2017, in coordination with GLSHD and AJEEC-NISPED
(an Israeli NGO), SIPP brought Anne Peters (Gracestone,
Inc. ), an American expert on e-scrap processing, to the region to provide relevant
health and safety workshops in Idhna (near Hebron), Al Quds University, and Tel Aviv
University. The purpose of this trip was to learn more about e-waste/e-scrap
practices in the region, as well as to educate the affected communities about the health
and safety issues associated with e-scrap/e-waste management and also current international
standards and practices. Learn more here.
- Constructed Wetlands2015
East of Jerusalem, rapidly expanding local communities lack infrastructure to treat raw
sewage, which ends up in local wadis. Raw sewage from Jerusalem and Bethlehem compound the
problem for small communities in the Kidron/Nar basin. Environmental lawyer and Hebrew
University professor, Richard Laster,throught the Amuta for Education and Health, has been
working with these communities to mitigate their sanitation issues. A Palestinian
researcher has also been working with these communities to implement local solutions.
SIPP is working with both Israelis and Palestinians to develop artifical wetlands to treat
local sewage, create more local vegetation, and develop water resources for agriculture.
SIPP has provided funding through the Amuta For Education and Health to assist with two
constructed wetlands in Ubeidya - one (a demonstration project which started operation n
2018) adjacent to two schools, and one (in planning) located in a growing residential area.
Saba Monastery - Polluted Cisterns2018
The 1500 year old Mar Saba Monastery, located in the Judean Desert east of Jerusalem on the
side of a canyon in the Kidron/Nar basin, is a Greek Orthodox pilgramage site, and attracts
visitors from all over the world. The adjacent Kidron/Nar stream is highly polluted
with raw sewage coming from Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and other local communities.
Several of the ancient cisterns that provide drinking water at the monastery are also
contaminated - displaying elevated levels of e-coli.
In 2018, SIPP board members Peter Ornstein and Dr. Bernard Amadei visited the monastery to
try to ascertain the source of the cistern contamination. Specifically, they were
interested in finding out if controlling the discharge of sewage upstream in Ubeidyah would
halt the contamination. After a day of walking the adjacent wadis, conferring with
the resident monks, and reviewing environmental screening data, they identified that the
contamination was probably coming from two sources: 1) several residential and agricultural
structures immediately adjacent to the monastery were likely the primary cause of
contamination; and 2) during severe weather events, contaminants (albeit diluted) were
likely flushed downstream from Ubeidyah. They recommended that the "holy spring"
(located at the Monastery) be tested for more than just e-coli (it was clean in the sample
results previously obtained by the Monastery), and its recharge area (i.e. the source water
for the spring) be better understood so that it can be protected from future human and
agricultural encroachment. They also recommend that additional steps be taken to physically
isolate the cisterns from one of the problemmatic drainages.
Leadership - The Arava Institute of Environmental Studies2018
The Arava Institute of Environmental Studies is an
educational institute located at Kibbutz Ketura, in the rift valley, about 30 miles north
of Eilat. The Institute is affiliated with Ben Gurion University and offers college
and graduate level courses on environmental, natural resources, and agricultural
studies. The student body is comprised of a mix of Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians
and students from other countries. "Here, the idea that nature knows no
political borders is more than a belief. It is a fact, a curriculum, and a way of
In 2018, SIPP partnered with the Friends
of the Arava, and another local partner, to showcase some of the Institute's work.
Several alumni from the Institute, including an Israeli and a Palestinian, gave a
presentation in Boulder, CO, on their experience living and studying together at the
Institute in times of political calm and political turmoil.
SIPP is looking for ways to further support the Arava Institute. Bernard Amadei, one
of SIPP's board members, has partnered with Arava faculty on research projects and
substantively participated in programs at the Institute.
The Hate - Litter, Coffee, and DialoguePotential Partner
Inon Kahati is on a mission. A native Jerusalemite, he wants to build community across the
entire land to respect the land, and respect each other. From Ramallah to Tel Aviv to Gaza,
from Palestinian refugee camps to Israeli West Bank settlements, Inon brings people
together to clean up the ubiquitous litter that mars the landscape. And in doing so, Inon
brings people together to have dialogue, and, importantly, coffee.
SIPP has met with Inon and admires his work. We hope one day we can participate in a
multi-national social-network-connected litter clean-up event.
Wadi Attir is a Bedouin administered sustainable agricultural project northeast of Be'er
Sheva, near the Bedouin community of Hura. It is intended to demonstrate how desert
agriculture, utilizing ancient Nebatean "technologies", can thrive in the Negev desert. The
project is a testing ground for both new and ancient technologies, provides agriculutural
workshops for the neighboring Bedouin communities, has livestock and a medicinal herb farm,
provides environmental education for schools throughout Israel, and serves as an
eco-tourism destination. While Wadi Attir is still a work in progress - in just a few years
it has transformed from an empty hard-pan desert landscape, to an area where vegetation can
grow without assistance and attract wildlife not typically present in the area.
SIPP has visited Wadi Attir numerous times and met with its visionary founder, Michael
Ben-Eli, when he was in Boulder. While we are not currently partnering with Wadi Attir, we
are inspired by its work and look for ways to work with Wadi Attir in the future. Click
here for more information about Project