SALFIT (Ma’an) -- Wastewater from the illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel has been leaking onto surrounding Palestinian lands in the central occupied West Bank Salfit district, local officials told Ma’an on Wednesday.
Ibrahim al-Hamed, an official from the department of agriculture in Salfit, told Ma’an that the settlement’s sewage pipeline had been leaking since Tuesday night, “drowning” nearby Palestinian agricultural lands.
According to al-Hamed, olive trees and other plants on the lands have already been damaged, leading residents to fear of larger scale agricultural and environmental damages should the leaks continue.
A spokesperson from COGAT, the agency responsible for enforcing the Israeli government’s policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, told Ma'an that "the Civil Administration coordinated the arrival of professional teams that fixed the malfunction," adding that further repairs would take place on Thursday.
The Ariel settlement is one of 196 Israeli government-recognized settlements in the West Bank, which were built in direct violation of international law on occupied Palestinian land.
The dumping of toxic waste from Israeli settlements on Palestinian land has been documented by rights groups in the past, with a February report
by the Amman-based Arab Group for the Protection of Nature (APN) and PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) revealing that Israeli authorities have “knowingly facilitated” the illegal manufacturing, trade, and use of hazardous pesticides inside illegal Israeli settlements.
According to the report, toxic waste has been dumped in Palestinian areas with a high concentration of schools, while communities near industrial Israeli settlements have reported contamination of their soil and drinking water, proliferation of disease-carrying mosquitoes, and an increase in cases of respiratory and eye diseases, including among children.
In the Salfit-area village of Wadi Qana
, wastewater dumped from a group of settlements into an Wadi Qana’s agricultural valley gradually polluted the river, forcing out Palestinians who had lived in and visited the valley for generations.