3th April 2013 | International Solidarity Movement, Salfit, Occupied Palestine
By Team Nablus
Illegal Israeli factory settlements in Salfit are threatening to damage the rich agricultural land of the surrounding villages and are adding a health risk already escalating due to sewage flow from illegal Israeli settlements in Salfit.
Salfit municipality representatives said that some of the illegal factory developments in Salfit are banned from existing in 1948 Palestine by Israeli environmental law; however, on Palestinian land in the West Bank, the factories can run without regard to the same environmental risks. Palestinian farmers in Salfit also say that trees are threatened and dying due to the factory development.
The two largest illegal settlements in Salfit are Ariel and Barkan. Both settlements have industrial and domestic establishments. Sewage from those settlements and others in Salfit run sewage rivers in the 18 Salfit villages. Winter rains earlier this year had the sewage flooding roads, forcing village municipalities to bulldoze river trails for the sewage.
Municipality representatives in Salfit also noted that the smell and insects from the sewage streams are causing stomach and skin illnesses for Palestinians, illnesses which have in some cases not been seen for 10 years in the population. Covering the sewage is also prohibited as some Salfit villages exist under Area C, under full Israeli civil and security control.
Additionally, Salfit Palestinians are restricted by road closures and sometimes threatened by vandalism from nearby settlers. Last year, settlers set fire to a mosque in Burqeen, a village that suffers severely from the sewage overflow from illegal settlements in addition to agricultural damage from settlement factory development.
Another ongoing issue in Salfit concerns the Wadi Kana valley near Dir Istya. The 7 km rich agricultural valley is surrounded by five illegal Israeli settlements whose residents frequently use the valley for recreational visits protected by Israeli soldiers. The valley is a land cultivated by farmers in Dir Istya. During settler visits, Palestinians say they cannot be in the valley.
Salfit district is about 25 miles north of Jerusalem with about 24 illegal Israeli settlements in and around its villages. It is said to hold three tombs of prophets, making it a destination for large groups of Israeli visitors that often disrupt residents and are a source of vandalism in the area. Visits by these large groups, Israeli soldier protected, and the illegal development of settlements and factories causes constant concern for the health of the district’s agriculture and the ability of Salfit Palestinians to live peacefully on their land.