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Israeli settlement industries polluting Tulkarem, Palestine


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. Further, the Geshuri factory does not operate during the months when the winds blow in the direction of Israel. 

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 :

(1 dunam = 1,000 square metres)

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

[2] Human Rights Watch. “Occupation Inc.: How Settlement Businesses Contribute to Israel’s Violations of Palestinian Rights”. 19 January 2015. how-settlement-businesses-contribute-israels-violations-palestinian#_ftn331

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

Tulkarem: A city under dust

Huge explosion and fire in illegal Israeli chemical factory in Tulkarm on Thursday night

The Socio-economic Impact of Settlements on Land, Water, and the Palestinian Economy

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Part 2 : Israel's chemical factories in Tulkarem, West Bank, 5-3-2010

Part 1 : Israel's Chemical Factories in Tulkarem, West Bank, 5-3-2010

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