FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Settlers and Trash

While the Israeli military strangulation of the West Bank tightens by the day, the Israeli settler community of Psagot, a settlement illegally erected near my City of Al-Bireh, is taking advantage of the Israeli government’s determination to militarily crush the Palestinian society to pursue their three decade old policy of illegal land confiscation. Just as the Israeli Occupation to suppress the entire Palestinian population has taken on new shapes and forms in the absence of any international considerations, Israeli settlers are camouflaging this latest round of land confiscation with a facade of environmental issues, namely a solid waste landfill site on the Eastern front of our City.

Since October 2000, at the outset of the Palestinian intifada, the Israeli Occupation Authorities declared by military order the closure of the Al-Bireh Municipality solid waste landfill site. This landfill site was originally designated to serve a population of over 100,000 people in Al-Bireh and other surrounding Palestinian communities within the Governorate of Ramallah/Al-Bireh. Consequently, the Ramallah and Al-Bireh Municipalities were forced to reopen and use an abandoned Ramallah landfill site. This Ramallah landfill site was abandoned many years ago due to it being overloaded and its close proximity to the Ramallah Industrial Zone and several residential areas. Likewise, this site was deemed to pose serious health and environmental risks to the City of Ramallah that further justified its closure.

Now, after over two years of being forced by the Israeli military to be re-opened and after receiving huge amounts of solid waste, this previously-abandoned Ramallah site has reached a level of health and environmental risk that can no longer be tolerated. The threat of the dumpsite collapsing during the rapidly approaching winter months is real and adds an additional urgency to the issue. In light of this threat, the City of Ramallah Municipality has formally requested its sister city, Al-Bireh, immediately refrain from using the dumpsite. Subsequently, massive amounts of solid waste are accumulating throughout the streets of the City of Al-Bireh creating serious health and environmental hazards.

The Municipality of Al-Bireh, in coordination with other Palestinian ministries and institutions, has tried several times to resolve the issue of the closed Al-Bireh landfill with the Israeli Authorities. After much effort, on October 22nd, 2002, the Israeli Authorities opened the landfill site for several hours before a band of heavily armed illegal Israeli settlers from the Psagot settlement closed the landfill site by force by firing on the municipality workers and drivers attempting to reach the site in their municipality trucks. Interestingly enough, the Israeli settlers themselves have never stopped using the landfill for disposing of their own waste throughout the last two years, through today. The Israeli Authority’s politically motivated reasons to close the only available landfill for the entire City of Al- Bireh and its indifference to the settlers rampant actions, has only added gas to the fire of Occupation that my citizens have been living with for 36-years.

The strategy of the settlers of Psagot is clear. They are hoping that we Palestinians will find an alternative landfill site in order for them to confiscate the large parcel of land the landfill uses in order to add it to the existing confiscated lands that they have already stolen from my City in hopes of expanding their illegal settlement. However, it is impossible for us to seek such an option, even as a last resort, given the physical constraints of land use present in the Oslo Peace Accords. Their strategy is multifaceted. Only last year they confiscated additional lands from the North of Al-Bireh under the pretext of security concerns. As the world is pre-consumed with seemingly more important affairs, the Israeli Occupation Authorities are land gabbing at an unprecedented rate in full synchronization with the illegal Israeli settlers.

Today, every street in my City is being turned into a trash dump. My citizens are rightfully complaining about the environmental risk and the health threat this open waste is posing to their children. My City workers have risked their lives, to no avail, to properly dispose of our City’s waste. I urgently appeal to the world community and in specific to environmental organizations worldwide to immediately intervene to allow the Al-Bireh landfill to be reopened.

Israeli Occupation of the West Bank will soon come tumbling down, but in the meantime; it is time to know who is in charge, the Israeli settlers or the Israeli government. If the website of the Israeli Ministry of the Environment is of any indication–they prominently list only two links on their homepage: the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, believe it or not, the Israel Defense Forces.

Walid Hamad is the Mayor of the Palestinian City of Al-Bireh in the West Bank. He may be reached at info@al-bireh.org

 

More articles by:

January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
Robert Fisk
The US Media has Lost One of Its Sanest Voices on Military Matters
Vijay Prashad
5.5 Million Women Build Their Wall
Nicky Reid
Lessons From Rojava
Ted Rall
Here is the Progressive Agenda
Robert Koehler
A Green Future is One Without War
Gary Leupp
The Chickens Come Home to Roost….in Northern Syria
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: “The Country Is Watching”
Sam Gordon
Who Are Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists?
Weekend Edition
January 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Richard Moser
Neoliberalism: Free Market Fundamentalism or Corporate Power?
Paul Street
Bordering on Fascism: Scholars Reflect on Dangerous Times
Joseph Majerle III – Matthew Stevenson
Who or What Brought Down Dag Hammarskjöld?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
How Tre Arrow Became America’s Most Wanted Environmental “Terrorist”
Andrew Levine
Dealbreakers: The Democrats, Trump and His Wall
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Que Syria, Syria
Dave Lindorff
A Potentially Tectonic Event Shakes up the Mumia Abu-Jamal Case
Nick Pemberton
There Are More Important Things Than The Truth
Brian Cloughley
How Trump’s Insults and Lies are Harming America
David Rosen
Sexual Predators in the Era of Trump
Tamara Pearson
Everything the Western Mainstream Media Outlets Get Wrong When Covering Poor Countries
Richard E. Rubenstein
Trump vs. the Anti-Trumps: It’s the System That Needs Changing Not Just the Personnel
Christopher Ketcham
A Walk in the Woods, Away from the Screens
Basav Sen
Democrats Failed Their First Big Test on Climate
Lauren Smith
Nicaragua – The Irony of the NICA Act Being Signed into Law by Trump
Joseph Natoli
Will Trumpism Outlive Trump?
Olivia Alperstein
The EPA Rule Change That Could Kill Thousands
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
The New Congress Needs to Create a Green Planet at Peace
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
Cuba: Trump Turns the Vise
Ramzy Baroud
When Bolsonaro and Netanyahu Are ‘Brothers’: Why Brazil Should Shun the Israeli Model
Mitchell Zimmerman
Government by Extortion
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail