Natural resource exploitation in the Dead Sea area, West Bank

The Dead Sea is renowned for its distinctive geographical, mineral and climatic features and is rich in natural resources. The wide variety of minerals present in the area permits the development of profitable cosmetic industries and raw materials, such as silt, sand, gravel and mud, are regularly extracted for these purposes. Almost two-thirds of the western shore of the Dead Sea lies within the West Bank.
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Basic Data
NameNatural resource exploitation in the Dead Sea area, West Bank
SiteMitzpe Shalem
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Mineral ore exploration
Land acquisition conflicts
Mineral processing
Specific CommoditiesMinerals extracted from Dead Sea water such as calcium, magnesium and potassiuls
Rare metals
Sand, gravel
Biological resources
Project Details and Actors
Project Details
Dead Sea mud is renowned for its unique cosmetic qualities. Around 50 factories are working in the cosmetic field in the Western shore of Dead Sea, both in the occupied Dead Sea and those belonging to Israel. As a extremely lucrative economic activity, the level of production amounts about 29 million USD per year.
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Type of PopulationRural
Start Date01/01/1988
Company Names or State EnterprisesAHAVA (AHAVA) from Israel
International and Financial InstitutionsEuropean Union (EU)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAl Haq
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingArtisanal miners
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Industrial workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Boycotts of companies-products
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Desertification/Drought, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Other socio-economic impacts, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseLand demarcation
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Application of existing regulations
Development of AlternativesBy virtue of the temporary nature of the situation of occupation, Israel must be regarded only as the administrator of the natural resources belonging to the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), and is obliged to administer them in accordance with the rule of usufruct. Accordingly, Israel is prohibited from exploiting natural resources in a way that undermines their capital and results in economic benefits for Israeli citizens, including settlers, or for its national economy.

Thus, Israel’s practices in the occupied Dead Sea area represent blatant violations of its legal obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law, since they favour Israeli economic interests while denying the Palestinian people their right to self-determination. The latter is considered a peremptory norm of international law, that is to say a norm that is binding on all States and from which no derogation is permitted.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Ahava is a company still in operation in Palestinian territory, currently there is not a clear solution to these environmental justice violations.
Sources and Materials

Pillage of the Dead Sea: Israel’s Unlawful Exploitation of Natural Resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory . Al-Haq 2012
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Ahava: Tracking the Trade Trail of Settlement Product
The Coalition of Women for Peace / Who Profits 2012
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Rights abuses make AHAVA a tough sell 2014
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Top Ten Corporate Criminals Alumni
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Media Links

Virtual Field Visit: Natural resource exploitation in the Dead Sea area - The case of Ahava 2014
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Other Documents

Dead Sea
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Meta Information
ContributorJesus Marcos Gamero. Environmental Justice in Palestine Project. AlHaq / Heinrich Boll
Last update06/04/2015