Why has Israel Relocated its hazardous Waste Treatment Facilities to the West Bank?
By: George Kurzom
Israeli waste recycling facility in Atarot settlement near Qalandia in Jerusalem district
Exclusive to Environment and Development Horizons:
The Israeli government recently designed $400 million to the so-called "environmental" projects; in particular for the establishment and development of Israeli waste treatment facilities throughout the West Bank, to absorb wastes produced from settlements and Israel. One of the most prominent of these projects is the construction of a waste recycling facility in the settlement of Maale Adumim (located on the lands of Al-Eizariya town), which will treat Israeli waste from Israel and the West Bank with an estimated cost of $216 million funded by the Israeli Ministry of Environment, Jerusalem Municipality and Ma'ale Adumim settlement council.
Afaq Environmental magazine which has been following the expansion activities and projects of settlements for many years, was able to obtain data (from sensitive sources belonging to Zionist leftists) concerning Maale Adumim facility. The data indicate that waste from all of Jerusalem will be transferred to this facility, in which most of it will be burned and the remaining recycled. In addition, large amounts of Israeli wastes and the Israeli incinerated waste will be buried in the same facility.
Many Israeli projects in the West Bank received approvals and permits from relevant Israeli authorities, especially the ministries of environment, infrastructure, finance and security, as well as the "Civil Administration" (the so-called coordinator of Israeli government activities in the Palestinian territories). Israeli sources reported that the coordinator of Government Operations in the Palestinian Territories presented, at a recent meeting, to the Palestinian Authority representatives, the main features of Israeli projects in the West Bank!
Afaq Environmental magazine has over the last two years recorded more than 40 sites in the West Bank where Israeli waste is burned continuously.
We can therefore observe that the huge Israeli government budgets continue to flow annually to the West Bank in order to stabilize, expand and develop the settlements infrastructure, so that it can absorb more Zionist colonists by completely ignoring the existence of the Palestinian Authority. Settlement projects in the West Bank are often carried out under the guise of being "environmental". In the end, Israeli government projects in the West Bank, particularly those related to infrastructure (solid waste, water, wastewater, wide and long streets, bridges, tunnels, etc.) are aimed at stabilizing and expanding Israeli control over the West Bank, and thus preparing the ground to annex West Bank to Israel
Two-thirds of Israeli hazardous waste is buried in the West Bank
According to a recent report by the Israeli Ministry of Environment in late 2018, Israel annually produces about 300,000 tons of hazardous waste, including solvents and very toxic hazardous acids. Most of the waste comes from large Israeli factories, as well as various facilities such as paint workshops, garages and printing presses. An analysis of the types of hazardous Israeli waste revealed that mineral waste accounted for the biggest share of total hazardous waste annually, reaching about 45 thousand tons. Batteries containing toxic lead metal are among the most important sources of hazardous metal waste. The report focused on the absence of an Israeli approach in the coming years, to reduce the use of hazardous chemicals which are estimated at more than one million tons annually. According to an earlier report by Afaq magazine, about two-thirds of Israel's hazardous waste (approximately 200,000 tons), including the remnants of military industries, are disposed of and buried outside the hazardous waste landfill in “Ramat Hovev” (located in the Negev desert), specifically in the West Bank.
It is worth noting that Israelis are strongly opposed to setting up waste treatment facilities along their residential areas in Israel, because they fear environmental and health risks. The heads of local Israeli authorities also refuse to establish waste recycling facilities in the industrial areas under their influence, regardless of the extent of their modernity, because they fear that their ability to attract other facilities and factories to these areas will weaken. However, the situation in the West Bank is quite different. Israeli landfills and treatment and recycling plants are proliferating in West Bank, without any regard for international law.
Although waste treatment is better than disposal or burying waste in its raw form, it remains a polluting industry. Many waste treatment processes, particularly hazardous waste, can lead to health hazards and pollution, including damage to open spaces; pollution of water, air and land; noise and dust pollution; visual pollution and pests.
The West Bank as a safe haven
Israel has a technical waste management system. However, the internal refusal to establish treatment facilities inside Israel itself, together with the high costs resulting from strict environmental regulations and the international restrictions on the export of waste, encouraged Israel to exploit Palestinian land in the West Bank to set up waste treatment facilities.
Remarkably, Israeli environmental laws that are strictly enforced within Israel do not apply to the West Bank and its Israeli industrial zones, including the Clean Air Act and the law requiring the reporting of pollutant emissions to the surrounding environment. In other words, Israeli installations in the West Bank that absorb Israeli waste are not subject to any control or inspection, as is the case in Israel, and therefore are not obliged to comply with the strict conditions and demands required by the Clean Air Act on polluting emissions to the surrounding environment. Israeli facilities and industrial zones in the West Bank enjoy financial incentives, tax discounts and substantial government support; making the establishment and operation of Israeli waste treatment facilities in the West Bank far more profitable than the establishment of such facilities inside Israel.
Translated by: Ghadeer Kamal Zaineh
Edited by: Johanna Albinsson and Ghadeer Qawariq