Exclusive to Environment and Development Horizons’ Magazine:
The expansion of Israeli rock quarries and crushers in the last years have destroyed Palestine’s environment and natural resources. Tens of quarries are operating in Area C in areas that have been stolen from its rightful owners by the occupation. The machines work night and day cutting and defacing the rolling hills. The rock quarries sell 94% of its production to the Israeli market ¼ of which is consumed by the construction sector. The rock quarries are defying international law and exploiting the natural resources of an occupied territory.
Israeli activist, Dror Eticks, who monitors the politics of the settlement showed that during 2009-2014 the Israeli rock quarries expanded their by 500 dunums. A portion of the seized property the quarries operate on are owned by Palestinian prisoners incarcerated by Israel.
The expansion of the settlements is illegal. The use of the land in the West Bank for industrial and commercial use is illegal and against international law. It is in direct violation of the Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land and its annex: Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land. The Hague, 18 October 1907; article 55. Which states : Art. 55. The occupying State shall be regarded only as administrator and usufructuary of public buildings, real estate, forests, and agricultural estates belonging to the hostile State, and situated in the occupied country. It must safeguard the capital of these properties, and administer them in accordance with the rules of usufruct.
In 2011 the Israeli High court of justice ruled that Israel’s exploitation of resources as legal. The ruling stated that the rock quarries are not in violation of international law. The court claimed that to discontinue the rock quarries operations would cause irrevocable damage to the owners and operators along with the residents of the West Bank. The justification is that the rock quarries provide the employment for the residents.
The other claim is that the fees paid by the rock quarries of 30 million shekels can be used by the civil administration for development projects. The most alarming aspect; the court stressed that these actions are in accordance to the Oslo accords.
Legitimizing the Exploitation
The Oslo accords legitimize the exploitation and ransacking of the natural resources of the West Bank. The land, the water, the minerals, everything. This has been a great crime against humanity. The occupying power has no authority to misuse the land it occupies. The many rock quarries that are operating near settlements are licensed by Israel. There are also European companies licensed by Israel to operate in the West Bank. The rock quarry that operates near Beit Fujar is on illegally annexed land. In contrast to the fact that when Palestinian companies applied to operate on the same property they were denied. This is a common occurrence, the Palestinian companies and owners are denied to operate in the same industry.
The exploitation of Area C is demonstrated by the building of settlements on stolen land, the pilfering of water and the stealing resources. The World Bank estimates that the Palestinian territories lose $3.4 billion a year due to the exploitation. Farmers are suffering from the pilfering of water by the occupation. They are not allowed the privilege to access the land and resources allotted to settlements. The roadways, the tunnels, industry has caused the disruption and displacement of thousands of Palestinian farmers. The loss of livelihood has made them into cheap labor for the occupation.
Translated by: Kefah Abukhdeir