Israeli Toxic Wastes Invade the West Bank ...and Palestinian Smugglers Remain at Large
Israeli hazardous waste seized in the northern West Bank
By Anas Abed
Exclusive to Environment and Development Horizons:
Palestinian farming is being dismantled by the Israeli occupation. Palestinian farmers’ presence on the land is being threatened with all possible Israeli methods and techniques. The most recent method is the illegal dumping of Israeli waste in villages that are near the so-called Green Line and Area C (terms applied by the Oslo agreements). Industrial, commercial and hazardous waste is being disposed of in the nearby villages.Medical waste includes the burning of X-ray pictures and discarded medical instruments. In the last ten years the dilemma has been noticeable with the accumulating landfills near the villages of Nili’in, Madiya, Qibya, Shuqba and Rantis. The villages are located northwest of Ramallah. The same predicament of discarded illegally dumped waste exists in the villages located along the apartheid wall.
The waste is being transported to the Waste Bank for relatively small amounts of money compared to the price of the removal inside Israel. Depending on the type of wastes they are brought from Israel and settlements for 300 NIS per big truck. This price is very low compared with the Israeli cost of waste disposal. The Israeli traffickers bribe some Palestinian collaborators to help facilitate the dumping
According to Raed Husam who is head of the tax and customs unit of the Palestinian Authority; ” The Palestinian Authority does not have jurisdiction over Area C. The lack of enforcement on the Israeli side of Area C has enabled the traffickers. There must be obedience on all sides to enforce restrictions. We are in the field to look for and pursue traffickers.When they are apprehendedwe try to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. We coordinate with the Environmental Quality Authority (EQA) to arrange the best protocols for handling those we arrest. The waste trafficking is being dealt with minimally. Those that are prosecuted get way with the crime and pay minimal fines. Repeat offenders are in the judicial system for years to no avail”
The Palestinian Authority is incapable to prosecute or enforce any regulation regarding waste disposal. The necessary provisions to bring the people to justice are impossible because the Palestinian Authority lacks legal jurisdiction over the area. If charges are brought against the perpetrators, it takes years to prosecute because the charges are not sanctioned because they were perpetrated in Area C.
Thabet Yusuf director of the EQA Directorate of Ramallah said “there are complications to return the waste to the Israeli side. Prosecution and hearings are slow, taking years, compared to the immediate danger the trash poses to the environment. It is more relevant to eliminate the waste and its effects than wait for the judicial system.”
Dr. Aql Abu Qaree’ a Palestinian environmental expert, explained to Horizons that if the waste is not removed properly it will devastate the ecosystem. The waste will accumulate and gradually contaminate the soil. Another hazard is the irreversible damage of the water table and underground water reservoirs . The same danger is posed to the flora and fauna when the soil is saturated with toxic chemicals.
Translated by: Kefah Abukhdeir