Israeli settlement industries polluting Palestinian city of Tulkarem


Description
Geshuri activities, a privately owned Israeli agrochemicals company that manufactures pesticides and fertilizers has been denounced by the potential serious health implications of its site of occupation for the many residents neighbouring the factories. The company was originally located in the Israeli coastal city of Netanyana but was closed down by a court order in 1982 after residents complained on account of its plants toxic emissions and was relocated to land, stolen for the purpose, on the outskirts of the Palestinian city of Tulkarem in the north-east of the West Bank where the pollution, unabated, continues apace and the factory called Keshet Prima, can avoid Israel’s strict environmental laws. It is part of an industrial area between Tulkarm and Israel called Nitzanei Shalom that is home to 12 Israeli chemical factories. . Neighbours claim the factory’s chemical waste and emissions have led to ruining the agricultural land around the factory, ground water and air pollution and increased disease rates including respiratory diseases, eye infections and cancer.
Basic Data
NameIsraeli settlement industries polluting Palestinian city of Tulkarem
CountryPalestine
ProvinceWest Bank
SiteTulkarem
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Chemical industries
Specific CommoditiesChemical products
Pesticides
Industrial waste
Project Details and Actors
Project Details
500 dunams :
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Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population60.000 (Turlkarm population)
Start Date01/01/1987
Company Names or State EnterprisesKeshet Prima and Geshuri from Israel
Relevant government actorsIsraeli Occupying Forces, Ministry of Industry Israel trade and employment
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersLocal farmers’ union, Civil society Organizations, Human Rights Organizations.
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 MobilizingFarmers
Social movements
Local government/political parties
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Industrial workers
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Informal workers
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Property damage/arson
Public campaigns
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Official complaint letters and petitions
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Fires, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage)
Health ImpactsVisible: Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Potential: Deaths, Other Health impacts
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseApplication of existing regulations
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Development of AlternativesIn June 2016, the Palestinian Environment Quality Authority (EQA) filed a notification with the Basel Convention Secretariat about an incident of two illegal truckloads of hazardous wastes sourced from Israel’s Nitzane Shalom (Geshuri) settlement industrial zone that were caught en route in April 2016 heading to the Zahrit al-Finjan landfill (near Jenin). A 2011 Israeli state comptroller report provided that the industrial settlement (referred to as Mesila) is unauthorized and is constructed without building permits through the takeover of Palestinian lands. In addition, it is contrary to international law to even use this landfill for the disposal of hazardous wastes. According to the Oslo Accords, hazardous waste in the Occupied Palestinian Territory needs to be transported for appropriate disposal to an Israeli landfill because the respective Palestinian authorities have been restricted from developing an appropriate location for environmentally sound disposal of toxic wastes.

In response to Palestine’s notification, Israel claimed that the waste was not theirs because it came from an industrial settlement. However, since responsibility for hazardous waste under the convention extends to ‘areas of jurisdiction’, this claim was dismissed by the Secretariat. According to the Basel Convention, a “transboundary movement” of waste entails the movement of waste from “an area under the national jurisdiction of one State” to another. Areas of national jurisdiction include “any land, marine area or airspace within which a State exercises administrative and regulatory responsibility in accordance with international law in regard to the protection of human health or the environment”. Israeli settlements are under full Israeli control as Israeli civil legislation regulates settlements authority institutions and applies extraterritorially to individual Israeli settlers.

Following the mediated negotiation process provided by the Basel Convention Secretariat, Palestine succeeded in winning an agreement from Israel for the waste to be transferred back across the Green Line, to be appropriately disposed of in Israel. This is a significant victory for Palestine, demonstrating one possible way to use international environmental law to hold Israel accountable for violating the environmental and human rights of Palestinians and seek appropriate remedies. However, in accepting the consequences of its criminal actions, Israel has demanded that the case not be published on the Basel Convention website. Despite the lack of public disclosure about the case to date, it remains an important first step in seeking effective remedial action for environmental crimes committed by Israel against Palestinian communities.[3]
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The attempt at remedies, including a nuisance action, is on-going.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

[1] Article 12(5) on Environmental Protection of Annex III of The Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (Oslo II). According to this article: “Both sides shall respectively adopt, apply and ensure compliance with internationally recognized standards concerning the following: levels of pollutants discharged through emissions and effluents; acceptable levels of treatment of solid and liquid wastes, and agreed ways and means for disposal of such wastes; the use, handling and transportation (in accordance with the provisions of Article 38 (Transportation)) and storage of hazardous substances and wastes (including pesticides, insecticides and herbicides); and standards for the prevention and abatement of noise, odor, pests and other nuisances, which may affect the other side.”

Links

The Socio-economic Impact of Settlements on Land, Water, and the Palestinian Economy
[click to view]

Huge explosion and fire in illegal Israeli chemical factory in Tulkarm on Thursday night
[click to view]

Tulkarem: A city under dust
[click to view]

[2] Human Rights Watch. “Occupation Inc.: How Settlement Businesses Contribute to Israel’s Violations of Palestinian Rights”. 19 January 2015.
[click to view]

[3] Al-Haq, "Environmental Rights Case Succeeds in Holding Israel Accountable for Illegal Hazardous Waste Dumping in Palestine". 25 August 2016.
[click to view]

Media Links

Part 1 : Israel's Chemical Factories in Tulkarem, West Bank, 5-3-2010
[click to view]

Part 2 : Israel's chemical factories in Tulkarem, West Bank, 5-3-2010
[click to view]

Other CommentsLook out for an upcoming publication of Environmental Injustice in Occupied Palestinian Territory, by Al Haq and Heinrich Boll Foundation.
Meta Information
ContributorEnvironmental Justice in Palestine team www.ejpalestine.blogspot.com and Al-Haq Organization, [email protected]
Last update06/04/2017
Comments