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Israeli stone quarrying in the Occupied Palestinian Territory


Stone quarrying is the largest Palestinian export, but it is choked by various Israeli restrictions, including the Israeli Civil Administrations failure to renew or grant new permits for Palestinian quarries in Area C since 1994. On the other hand, Israeli and international corporations, operate thriving quarrying businesses in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).  Cemex, a Mexican corporation, has wholly owned Israeli Readymix Industries since 2005.  Until June 2015, Readymix owned 50% of the shares in Yatir Quarry, located in the occupied West Bank. Cemex has profited from the exploitation of stone resources in the OPT. On 10 June 2015, the Israeli Antitrust Authority approved a request for a merger between Kfar Giladi Quarries and Yatir Quarry and less than a week later Lime & Stone was no longer listed as one of the owners of Yatir Quarry on the Israeli Registrar of Companies. Additionally, through its ownership of Readymix Industries, Cemex supplies building materials for construction of settlements, checkpoints (e.g. Hawara and Azzun-Atma) and for the Annexation Wall (along the Gilo Bridge). Readymix operates three aggregate factories in the illegal Israeli settlements of Mevo Horon, Mishor Adumim, and Atarot.  HeidelbergCement, one of the largest construction materials companies in the world, owns three cement plants and one quarry in the occupied West Bank through its subsidiary Hanson Israel, which it acquired in 2007.

In June 2015, Norwegian pension fund KLP excluded Cemex and HeidelbergCement from its investment portfolio.  The decision was taken due to their operations in the occupied West Bank. The largest private pension and insurance fund in Denmark also divested from Heidelberg in December 2015, qualifying HeidelbergCement’s activities as a “violation of basic human rights.”  In a letter to the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre dated 9 September 2015, Cemex has confirmed its presence in settlements. and announced that it had sold its holdings in the Yatir quarry, a mining site located south of the Palestinian city of Dhahiriya in the West Bank yet it continues to operate four factories on occupied land through Readymix Industries. Several court cases have been filed regarding this conflict. In December 2011, the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din, claimed that Israeli quarrying in the OPT was illegal under international law because it exploited the natural resources of the occupied territory for the benefit of the occupying power. However the court ruled that in a prolonged occupation the economic development of the occupied territory could not be frozen indefinitely and held that existing Israeli-owned quarries should be allowed to continue operating, but no new ones should open.

According to Human Rights Watch military authorities closed down about 35 Palestinian quarries in the West Bank in late March 2016 and confiscated millions of dollars’ worth of equipment. In a letter to Human Rights Watch, Israel’s Civil Administration said that it shut down the quarries because they were operating without licenses and created safety and environmental hazards. The closures puts the livelihoods of up to 3,500 workers at risk and highlights the difficulty Palestinian quarries have in obtaining new licenses over the past 20 years.  In 2016, The High Court of Justice in Israel rejected a petition  by the Forum for a Green Israel against the continued operation of Palestinian quarries in the West Bank, which accused them of causing serious environmental pollution. The nonprofit organization was ordered to pay the quarries and the state 5,000 shekels ($1,300) each in legal costs.   In December 2015, the United Nations adopted a resolution demanding that Israel cease the exploitation, damage, depletion and endangerment of Palestinian natural resources, and recognize the right of Palestinians under military occupation to claim restitution.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Israeli stone quarrying in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
State or province:West Bank
Location of conflict:Beit Fajar
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Military installations
Building materials extraction (quarries, sand, gravel)
Specific commodities:Cement

Project Details and Actors

Project details

There have been 11 licenses issued to Israeli quarries to operate in the West Bank.

In 2011, the occupation watchdog group "Who Profits" found that 94 percent of the mined materials are transferred to present-day Israel or the settlements, and a portion of the profits are allocated to the Civil Administration, the bureaucracy in charge of the occupation.

According to a Palestinian Authority report on the economic costs of the Israeli occupation published in September, the potential value of production from mining and quarrying in the West Bank under Israeli control is an estimated $900m a year.

Meanwhile it is estimated that the Palestinian operated quarries in Beit Fajar employ 3500 people and is worth $25 million USD per year.

Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:1994
Company names or state enterprises:CEMEX from Mexico
HedeilbergCement from Germany
Hanson from Israel - Local Subsidiary of HeidelbergCement
Readymix Industries from Israel - Local subsidiary of CEMEX
Relevant government actors:Israeli Occupying Forces
International and Finance InstitutionsUnited Nations General Assembly (UN)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Al Haq
Yesh Din

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Artisanal miners
Industrial workers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Public campaigns
Shareholder/financial activism.
Boycotts of companies-products


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Withdrawal of company/investment
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The majority of the West Bank’s stone deposits are in Area C. Israeli and international companies operate quarries there, condoned by Israel in contravention of international law. Palestinian businesses, meanwhile, are systematically denied the opportunity to develop and grow.

Sources & Materials

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

[1] Who Profits. “Cemex’s New West Bank Policy: Drops Mining Activity, Continues Production in Settlements”(Sep, 2015).

[2] Business & Human Rights Resource Centre. “CEMEX Response (unofficial translation by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre”. (9 Sep. 2015)

[3] Human Rights Watch, 'Occupation, Inc.: How Settlement Businesses Contribute to Israel’s Violations of Palestinian Rights' (Report, 2016)

[4] Readymix. 'The Group’s Location'. de=73&Referral=tree&ValuePage=Card2

[5] Readymix Industries Ltd. “Finding the Nearest Plant”. de=73&Referral=tree&ValuePage=Card2

[6] Reuters - HeidelbergCement searching for new site for West Bank quarry, May 4, 2016

[7]Israeli Court Rejects Bid to Close Palestinian Quarries for Environmental Reasons, Haaretz, June 24, 2016

[8] Israeli companies can profit from West Bank resources, court rules, The Guardian, Jan 3. 2012

[9] UN adopts resolution on Palestinian sovereignty over natural resources, Ma'an News Agency, Dec. 23, 2015

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Al-Haq, 'Facts on the Ground' (Campaign)

Meta information

Contributor:Al-Haq Organization, [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:2637



A truck of Readymix supplying concrete to the outpost of Mitzpe Yair | May 2012 | Photographed by Guy from Taayush


Yatir Quarry | Occupied West Bank | Oct 2008 | Photo by Who Profits


A Readymix truck on a construction site | Gilo settlement, Occupied East Jerusalem | Jan 2010 | Photo by ActiveStills


Yatir Quarry | Occupied West Bank | 2011 | Photo by Taayush

Readymix’s factory in the Atarot settlement industrial zone | Jun 2015 | Photo by Who Profits