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West Bank Cement Factory, Palestine

Sanad Construction Industries is looking to build a cement factory in the Bethlehem Governorate, at the proximity of the traditionally agricultural village of Arab el-Rashaida. The villagers opposed the project, citing possible environmental burdens.


On October 1, 2016, Sanad Construction company announced the launch of the Palestinian Cement Factory project in a ceremony under the patronage of the Palestinian president after having received approvals from the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Local Government. [1] A month later, on November 2, when representatives from Sanad visited the lot where the construction was supposed to take place on, they were sent back by locals from Arab el-Rashaida and prevented from conducting their land survey. [2] Arab el-Rashaida is a Palestinian village in Bethlehem Governorate located 18.7km southeast of Bethlehem City with a population not exceeding 1500 as of 2007. Most of its surface area is used for agriculture as it makes up 60% of the village's economic activity. Moreover, Arab el-Rashaida lacks basic wastewater and solid waste management infrastructure as well as no health clinics or pharmacies. Over the years, the village underwent several water crises and saw its water supply cut off for long periods in summer. The insufficient water supply, high rate of water loss, underdeveloped water network, and the lack of rainwater harvesting all play a part in exacerbating the situation. [3][4] The main reasons for rejecting the project entirely was mainly its proximity to the village and the consequences that might have. Villagers argue that the factory will be built over wells that they use to feed their livestock, which amounts to one-third of all the livestock in Palestine, threatening their existence and their main source of income. In addition, the issue of Basin No. 3 was brought up, a part of land intended for the factory but whose ownership is disputed between the farmers and the government. According to them, the air and soil pollution resulting from building and operating the factory will push the residents of Arab el-Rashaida to migrate, opening a door for Israeli settlements on the vacated land. [5][6] A year before, Sanad tried to construct the plant in another location, in the east of Tulkram. The company was also met with opposition, to which it responded that the project will only take place with the approval of the landowners, prompting them to find another location. [7] On January 11, 2017, Sanad posted a detailed video about the project on their website [9], affirming that it will go through. In it, they claim that a substantial part of the budget will be used for "environmental equipment". In addition, they maintained that the factory will be 4 Km away from the closest inhabited area and that underground aquifers and other environmental resources won't be affected, as opposed to the claims of the villagers. Showing that their initial claims were not taken into consideration and that the project is on track.

Basic Data
Name of conflict:West Bank Cement Factory, Palestine
State or province:Betlehem
Location of conflict:Arab al-Rashayda
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Other industries
Specific commodities:Cement
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Upon completion, the cement factory will have a capacity of 1.3 million tons of cement per year a little bit more than a third of the annual Palestinian market demand.

See more
Project area:13,000
Level of Investment for the conflictive project310,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:1,453 (According to 2007 census)
Start of the conflict:02/11/2016
Company names or state enterprises:Sanad Construction Industries (Sanad) from Palestine - Main Contractor
Relevant government actors:Environmental Quality Authority (EQA)
Ministry of National Economy (MNE)
Ministry of Local Government (MOLG)
Ministry of Agriculture (MOA)
International and Finance InstitutionsPalestinian Investment Fund (PIF) from Palestine - Purchased the Lot
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Arab al-Rashaida Community Committee
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Forms of mobilization:Development of alternative proposals
Objections to the EIA
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Villagers prevented representatives from the company in doing their land surveys in the first phases of the project.
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Infectious diseases, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Proposal and development of alternatives:Some farmers of the village proposed investing in agricultural and animal husbandry projects (without going into details), that could boost the economic revenue of the area without being harmful to health and the environment. They have also stressed on the fact that another location should be found for building the factory. [6]
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:It is unclear whether the demands of the villagers were met or if any consequences on their livelihoods were already reported but Sanad went on with the construction of the factory as teams from Palestinian Environmental Quality Authority visited the site and conducted field tests showing that the location is appropriate for the cement plant.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[3] - Arab el-Rashaida Village Fact-Sheet by The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem
[click to view]

[4] - Arab el-Rashaida Village Profile by The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem
[click to view]

[1] - Arab el-Rashaida newspaper article from Al-Ayyam (Arabic)
[click to view]

[2] - Arab el-Rashaida newspaper article from Al-Iqtisadi (Arabic)

[5] - Arab el-Rashaida newspaper article from PalTimes (Arabic)

[6] - Arab el-Rashaida article Al-Monitor (English)
[click to view]

[7] - Sanad Press Release after rejection of first location by residents
[click to view]

[8] - Palestine Investment Fund (PIF) Launches the First Palestinian Cement Factory Mega Project
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[9] - Video description of the project, posted on Sanad's official website on January 11, 2017
[click to view]

Arab el-Rashaida Cement Factory Report

"Arab el-Rashaida, the Dream of Life Between Ashes" (Arabic)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Christophe Maroun - ICTA
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:2738
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