Israel has established “at least 15” waste treatment facilities in the occupied West Bank, according to a new report by NGO B’Tselem.
Most of the waste they process is produced in Israel, while “six of the facilities handle hazardous waste which requires special processes and regulatory supervision due to the dangers it poses”.
According to B’Tselem, “abusing its status as an occupying power, Israel has set out less stringent regulations in industrial zones in settlements and even offers financial incentives such as tax breaks and government subsidies.”
“This policy has made it more profitable to build and operate waste treatment facilities in the West Bank than inside Israel,” the NGO adds.
While “Israel regards the facilities built in the West Bank as part of its local waste management system”, it applies “less rigorous regulatory standards there than it does inside its own territory”. For example, polluting plants in settlement industrial zones “are subject to virtually no restrictions”.
“Israel is effectively having it both ways,” says B’Tselem, “seemingly increasing the amount of waste it treats, it actually does so by diverting the risks and pollutants onto Palestinian land and people.”
As further evidence of Israel’s intentions, the NGO cites remarks made in June 2017 by Shoni Goldberg, director of the Ministry of Environmental Protection’s Jerusalem District, who acknowledged that “there are certainly wastes, especially hazardous waste and expensive waste, that Israelis transfer to the West Bank to get rid of”.
According to the NGO, “any transfer of waste to the West Bank is a breach of international law”, since “the provisions of international law stipulate that an occupied territory or its resources may not be used for the benefit of the occupying power’s own needs or economic development”.
“Moreover, the occupying power is responsible for ensuring public health and hygiene in the occupied territory and must provide residents of the occupied territory with an adequate standard of living, including ‘the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health’.”
In summary, B’Tselem concludes, “waste treatment in the West Bank is simply one more facet of the exploitative policy Israel has practiced consistently for fifty years now, using Palestinian space and people to further its own interests.”