Palestinians poisoned by Israeli toxic waste

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

Khalil Marwan

Rabi' al-Thani 23, 1419 1998-08-16

Occupied Arab World

by Khalil Marwan (Occupied Arab World, Crescent International Vol. 27, No. 12, Rabi' al-Thani, 1419)

Torture, beatings, deceit and theft are the stock in trade of the Zionist occupiers of Palestine. Now Yassir Arafat’s Palestinian Authority, a subcontractor for the Israelis, has also joined the cruelty bandwagon agains the Palestinian people.

But it is the ever-fertile imagination of the Zionists that has reached dizzying heights. They have come up with one more exotic weapon to inflict suffering on the Palestinians.

Toxic waste from Israeli industries is being dumped near Palestinian villages in callous disregard of the health and environmental hazards it poses. The 8,000 residents of Azzun on the West Bank have had to endure the poisonous fumes of Israeli toxic waste that is regularly dumped near their village, brought from industries in Tel Aviv 20 miles away. The villages of Qilqilya and Tulkarm are faced with similar hazards, thanks to the Zionists’ dumping practices.

Residents complain of itchy eyes and throats. That, however, is a minor problem. More serious is the alarming rise in incidence of cancer - mainly leukemia, prostate cancer and Hodgkin’s disease - in Azzun. Dr Abdul-Rahmen Abu-Hanieh who has tended to the health of the local people for 11 years, has no doubt about the cause. During that time, he has witnessed a tenfold increase in the incidence of cancer.

‘It’s the dumps,’ he told Julian Burger of the Guardian newspaper of London. ‘The Israelis don’t care what they unload there - all sorts of chemicals. Who knows what. In all the other villages, I go to fill in death certificates there are maybe one or two cases of cancer. Here there are 10 or 11 a year,’ Dr Abu-Hanieh was quoted by the paper on July 22.

There can be no denying the fact that the zionists are deliberately poisoning the residents of Azzun and other West Bank towns. Azzun adjoins an area that is under army jurisdiction. Without their connivance, it is impossible for such dumping to take place. According to eyewitness accounts, every few nights trucks appear from the west (the Israeli side) and empty their lethal cargo on Azzun’s doorstep.

This is not an isolated incident. The Zionists have perpetrated similar crimes elsewhere. Collective punishments are a common tactic used against civilians. Long-range artillery is used to blast Palestinian homes when people suspected of resistance activities against the Zionist occupiers are known to have lived there. Often, not only the immediate family - which may be quite large - is punished but even the neighbours are subjected to such Zionist terror tactics.

During raids on Palestinian homes, Israeli soldiers routinely mix flour with kerosene deliberately spoiling it to make it unfit for consumption. Palestinians are subjected to other forms of torture as well. Jamal al-Khamisi, who was released from Ramla prison on July 21, collapsed and died five days later. The Palestine Human Rights Commission (PHRC) has little doubt that he was denied proper medication for liver cancer.

A month earlier on June 21, Yousef al-Arear, died within 10 hours of being sent to Ramla prison. He had had a heart by-pass operation and was released from hospital a month later. Taken to prison, he died 10 hours later, again the result of mistreatment and torture at the hands of the zionist occupiers.

In January 1997, the Israeli Hebrew newspaper, Ha’aretz, revealed that Israeli doctors had deliberately injected AIDS-infected blood into Palestinian children under treatment in hospitals. At least 350 children were reported to have been infected in this way.

The zionists, however, are not going to escape the effects of poison dumping near Palestinian villages either. Azzun, Qalqilya and Tulkarm form a triangle of ecological desolation. ‘Qalqilya and Tulkarm are on top of the most important water aquifers in the region,’ according to Mohammed al-Hmaidi, director-general of the Palestinian Environment Authority (PEA). ‘It supplies both Israelis and the Palestinians. If it is polluted it will affect everyone.’

But it is the Palestinians who are most severely affected. Mohammed Abu-Hanieh, a local farmer and a distant relative of the doctor, recited a long list of relatives who had died of cancer in recent years, including his wife, brother and cousin.

Israel’s environment ministry, like their army and police responding to charges of torture, rejects suggestions that waste-dumping is tolerated in Palestinian areas. But the Zionists are compulsive liars and greedy.

Toxic waste dumping has an economic dimension as well. It costs about US$65 to hire a driver (usually a Palestinian) to dump a five-ton truck of waste chemicals in the West Bank. To dispose of the same volume at Ramat Hovav in the Negev desert (Israel’s only approved dump site for toxic chemicals) costs more than $11,000.

‘Dumps are being closed in Israel, increasing the incentive to go and dump on the West Bank,’ said Gidon Bromberg, the Israeli director of the environmental action group, Ecopeace. Environmentalists say the West Bank is suffering the overspill effects of a profound Israeli ecological crisis.

The Gishuri Industries pesticide factory is a vivid example. After Israeli environmental protests, it moved about 10 years ago from Tel Aviv to Tulkarm, where it now pumps a daily cloud of waste products over the Palestinian neighbourhood 50 yards away.

Muslimedia: August 16-31, 1998

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