On Sunday, April 22, 2012, Israel celebrated Earth Day with events from southern most Eilat to northernmost Acco, from coastal Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on the edge of the West Bank, from the Negev to the Galilee.
The days events cumulated with an hour long rolling “lights out” in 23 cities across Irael, including the capital Jerusalem. The cities were divided into four groups turning off their lights in ten minute intervals at 8:00, 8:10, 8:20, and finally 8:30. The IDF also turned out the lights on all bases for one hour starting at 8:00pm. The Israel Electric Company (IEC) reported that during the half hour where all 23 cities had their lights partially or fully out, nationwide electricity usage dropped by 35%.
The hour long black out was inspired by “Earth Hour”. Earth Hour aims to build global awareness about energy conservation and green energy sources through a global “lights out” starting around 8:30PM local time around the world. The event normally happens the last Saturday of March. Shabbat observant members would find it difficult to participate because Shabbat ends just before 8PM around that time of year. In order to include both religious and non-religious environmental advocates, Israel usually reschedules its participation. Last year it marked Earth Hour on Thursday, March 24 two days before the global Earth Hour on March 26. This year it postponed Earth Hour until Earth Day.
Colonel Ronen Marley, commander of an IDF training school in the Negev, said that love of Israel’s land and its defense cannot be separated:
Those who don’t love the land, the earth, cannot protect it. When we educate our squad commanders to care for nature, the result is that they will pay attention to the environment during military operations and minimize the damage caused by these activities, and we will increase their sense of responsibility,