By: George Kurzom
Israeli polluting industries spread across the West Bank
Exclusive to Environment and Development Horizons (Afaq magazine):
Dangerous and deadly air pollution is spreading in many Palestinian areas, not only those occupied since 1967 but also occupied since 1948. The reason is the unlimited greed of the Zionist colonial capital; which aims at accumulating the biggest amount of financial profits for the industrial, agricultural, and services sectors; regardless that it is affecting not only the bodies of the Palestinians, but also the Israelis’.
The Israeli environmental expert, Moore Gilboa, published an article in the economic newspaper Globes (March 28, 2019), revealing that the risk of dying (in Israel) from air pollution is greater than the probability of dying from a rocket or “terrorist attack” (in his words) or from a road accident, combined. According to the same article, more than 2,500 Israelis die every year from air pollution, half from polluting industries, and half from pollution caused by the transport sector.
Nevertheless, the Zionist capital forces and the Israeli government that embody their interests continue to expand polluting industries among population centers, such as Haifa and Isdud. Of the 35 member states of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (according to 2017 data), Israel is one of the most polluted countries. Particulate concentration of hazards in the air is higher than that of Israel’s in only three member countries (Poland, Chile and Mexico).
Israeli statements, especially the Israeli State Comptroller's report published last May, confirm that polluters, whether individuals, companies or institutions, are often not prosecuted or punished for causing harm to the health of the citizens of Israel. That is not to mention the serious health damage inflicted on Palestinians as a result of large Zionist polluting constructional projects throughout the West Bank in the past decades. Not a single administrative or judicial decision has been recorded against these Zionist establishments that destroy the Palestinian environment and the public health in the West Bank.
As for Israel itself, most of the pollution cases do not face administrative or criminal procedures, but, at best, are dealt with through formal settlements. An example which is not an isolated one, was during the years 2014-2018, where most of the investigation files of polluters (more than 77%) were closed without indictments. The indictments were filed in less than a quarter of the files, which does not exceed 1.7% of the total number of serious Israeli pollution cases during the same period.
Polluting Israeli power plants still generate most of the electricity in Israel through particularly coal and natural gas. Natural gas is a major cause of global warming, albeit to a lesser extent than coal. The reality of the Israeli energy is on the opposite direction of the global trend, noted the International Energy Agency (IEA) in its annual report, showing that during 2016, the renewable energy sources, led by solar energy, accounted for more than 65% of total new energy production added globally.
Today there is a near universal consensus that the future of mankind lies in solar systems based on energy storage in batteries. Paradoxically, the price of solar energy in "Israel" is about 15 agoras per kilowatt hour (kWh), while its global price does not exceed 3 US cents (about 10 agoras). The reason for this price gap, despite Israel's advanced technological level, is the great power of Israel's capitalist junta, who is controlling the looted gas wealth.
In light of the official "vaunting" of Israel's "superiority" in the fields of renewable energy technology, more than one Israeli government plan to move towards green energy has evaporated in recent years. The latest of which was one that the government approved in 2010, but was crossed off, for all the following years, from the state budgets. The plan was to reduce about 16 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions and get 15 times the return on investment by 2020.
It is noteworthy that the carbon dioxide emissions per capita of Israel is the highest in the world, reaching about 11 tons per year per capita (Haaretz, 20/9/2018), while Palestinian per capita emissions do not exceed 0.5 tons per year. Thus, the Israeli per capita emissions are 22 times higher than that of the Palestinian. In fact, it’s even larger than most European countries where public transportation and energy conservation are more advanced than "Israel".
In comparison, Morocco will produce 42% of its energy from renewable sources in 2020, and in 2030 the proportion of renewable energies (of total energy) in Germany will reach to 45%. Israel is the only OECD country with no absolute GHG emission reduction targets and corresponding budgeting, in accordance with the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Jordan, which is considered "backward" technologically, compared to "Israel", outperformed the latter in the use of solar energy. It worth noting that solar energy can meet most of the Israeli demand for energy during daylight hours, at a significantly lower environmental and economic cost—lower even when compared to the cost of looted natural gas. In this context, we can say that the influence of the green Israeli parties, at the eco-economic and political levels, is marginal and not comparable to the European party scene where the green parties achieved a remarkable electoral achievement in the European Parliament elections; while the Israeli green parties failed to approach the electoral threshold in successive electoral rounds of the Knesset (parliament) during the last decades.
Centre and Periphery
Similar to internal structure of other Western countries, Israel deals with historic Palestine according to the imperialist logic known as the center and the periphery. The West Bank, according to this line of thought, is considered the periphery, as well as the areas of southern Palestine (such as those surrounding Gaza Strip) and Naqab desert; Tel Aviv and its surroundings, of course, is the center. Therefore, for decades, "Israel" has been transferring many of the polluting Israeli industries to the West Bank and some areas of southern Israel and the Naqab; not to mention turning the West Bank into a huge landfill for hazardous Israeli waste. Thus, about two-thirds of Israel's hazardous waste, including waste from military industries, or about 200,000 tons, is annually disposed and dumped in the West Bank (Environment and Development Horizons, February 2019). Many areas of the West Bank (Hebron, Salfit, Tulkarm, the outskirts of East Jerusalem, ... ) have been turned into Israeli waste burials or sites for treatment and recycling. It is known that the industries of recycling and treatment of waste are still a cause of pollution, which explains the Israeli strong objection to establishing waste treatment facilities next to their areas of residence in "Israel".
In the West Bank (periphery), Israel operates crushers and quarries that destroy the ecological landscape and plunder Palestinian natural resources. It also embarks on constructing new crushers on the lands sloughed from their Palestinian owners. A few years ago, the Israeli Ministry of Environment prevented the expansion of existing crushers in Israel itself, or the construction of new crushers, but it encourages and grants licenses for the work of dozens of Israeli crushers in the West Bank, which supply about one third of the Israeli market demand for building materials.
Contaminating Israeli industrial facilities and landfills, crushers, and quarries in the West Bank, as well as the large agricultural projects (especially in the Palestinian valleys), enjoy financial incentives, tax deductions, and substantial government support, making their presence and operation in the West Bank much more profitable than establishing such facilities within "Israel". All of these industries and economic establishments treat the West Bank as the “promised economic paradise” that fattens billions of dollars annually.
Translated by: Carol Khoury