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Israeli settlement industries polluting Tulkarem, Palestine

Israeli chemical plant closed down by court order in Israel due to toxic emissions has now moved across the green line and continues to operate leading to serious health impacts.


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.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Israeli settlement industries polluting Tulkarem, Palestine
State or province:West Bank
Location of conflict:Tulkarem
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 commodities:Chemical products
Industrial waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details

500 dunams :

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Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:60.000 (Turlkarm population)
Start of the conflict:01/01/1987
Company names or state enterprises:Keshet Prima and Geshuri from Israel
Relevant government actors:Israeli Occupying Forces, Ministry of Industry Israel trade and employment
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Local farmers’ union, Civil society Organizations, Human Rights Organizations.
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Industrial workers
Informal workers
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation 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
Property damage/arson
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-economical 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
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Application of existing regulations
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Proposal and development of alternatives:In 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 an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The attempt at remedies, including a nuisance action, is on-going.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[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.”

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Environmental Injustice in Occupied Palestinian Territory: Problems and Prospects, Al Haq 2015
[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]

Tulkarem: A city under dust
[click to view]

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

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

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

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

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

Other comments:Look out for an upcoming publication of Environmental Injustice in Occupied Palestinian Territory, by Al Haq and Heinrich Boll Foundation.
Meta information
Contributor:Environmental Justice in Palestine team and Al-Haq Organization, [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1503
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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