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Israeli settlement sewage contaminating Palestinian water supply

Najib Farrag / Bethlehem
Palestine News Network
30.09.08 - 11:35
The Applied Research Institute, ARIJ, compiled data indicating that Israeli settlements are a major environmental threat to the West Bank as they openly spill wastewater.

The Palestinian Ministry of Environmental Protection, along with the Israeli Authority for the Protection of Nature and National Parks and the Israeli Civil Administration are monitoring pollution in the West Bank.

Their studies indicate that the main source of contamination of the water supply is wastewater flowing into Palestinian population centers.

The Israeli governmental agencies did not openly state that the wastewater is coming from Israeli settlements, but ARIJ did and the fact has already been documented by several other sources, including by the naked eye that can see sewage flowing out of some settlements and into neighboring Palestinian towns and agricultural lands. The environmental threat posed by Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is as brutal as the physical threat posed by the settlers themselves to the land and population.

The Institute points out that the West Bank, save for the colonized blocks, is being transformed into a garbage dump while a significant degradation of soil quality and depletion of natural resources are both noted.

Untreated waste water is pumped into Palestinian agricultural areas without any commitment to environmental standards and with blatant indifference to the population. About half a million settlers in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, produce some 54 million cubic meters of waste water annually.

The 2.3 million Palestinians in the WBEJ produce 52 million cubic meters of waste water annually. That means that Israeli settlers consume five times more water than Palestinian citizens.

ARIJ also pointed out that the Israeli government collects taxes from Palestinians but uses the revenue “in the interests of the occupation authorities and settlers.” The Institute continued in its report, “The facts indicate that Israeli management of the water and sanitation sector is violation of norms and agreements even during the various stages of the peace process when agreements have been made through peace treaties for environmental protection.”

The Israeli Ariel Settlement, built on land of the northern West Bank’s Salfit District, is dumping its waste water into the neighboring valley which feeds into the underground basin in the western region.

Also in the northern West Bank towns of Kafr Deik and Burquin near the Green Line a waste water treatment facility was planned to be built in cooperation a German agency but due to obstacles placed by Israeli forces the project was prevented from going through. The Israelis needed to give consent because the building site was in Area C. They refused and said that they would agree only if it was to be a joint treatment facility for Israeli settlement waste water and that from Palestinian cities. The Palestinians refused this as it was an attempt to legitimize illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.

The case of Bethlehem and Jerusalem was similar in regard to Israeli waste water flowing into Wadi Nar, the Valley of Fire. Settlements built in East Jerusalem such as Ma’ale Adumim are flowing strait into Palestinian land. The occupation authorities rejected plans for a Palestinian waste water treatment facility in Tulkarem and insisted it be built on the other side of the Green Line in order to take the treated water for their agriculture and a discounted price.

It should be noted that the Israeli government has frozen 150 projects in the area intended to improve basic infrastructure and services, particularly water and sanitation services for the Palestinian population under the guise of security concerns.

The report issued by ARIJ reiterates other findings indicating that presently Israel has seized more than 80 percent of fresh water resources.