Swirling in the strikingly green valley below the southern Samaria community of
Nofim is a rambling stream amid grass and trees – filled with dangerous
quantities of sewage.
A subterranean sewage pipe connects to the
underbellies of four of the five surrounding settlements – Nofim, Yakir, Etz
Ephraim and Sha’arei Tikva – and will within a few months also connect to that
of Ma’aleh Shomron, bringing all of the effluent to a treatment facility in
Despite Israeli offers to connect the 22 surrounding Palestinian
villages to the same pipe, all but one of them refused the proposal,
Environmental Protection Ministry and Shomron Regional Council officials
explained during an exclusive tour of the area on Thursday.
their sewage flows into the aquifer below and ends up directly in the stream,
according to the officials.
“That’s a testament to the fact that we are
doing everything we can to prevent pollution in Judea and Samaria, but
nevertheless, the Palestinians refuse to cooperate,” Environmental Protection
Minister Gilad Erdan told The Jerusalem Post
during the tour.
planned about 15 years ago, the pipeline was only constructed about eight years
ago, and a decade ago sewage from the settlements as well flowed directly into
the stream, according to Shomron Environmental Association director Itzik
Erdan expressed hope that donor countries would agree to only
continue giving the villages financial support if they agree to connect to the
sewage pipeline. Meanwhile, he also said he hoped that the relationship between
the local Palestinian and Israeli communities would improve, though he certainly
has doubts about this matter.
“Hopefully I will be surprised,” he
“It’s important for me to reveal whether they’re making political
use of water,” Erdan said. “Or maybe it’s a problem of misunderstanding – but
that is hard for me to believe.”
Another Environment Ministry official
was slightly more optimistic, explaining that one of the 22 villages had, in
fact, recently agreed to hook up to the sewage pipe, a deal that would be
finalized in a few weeks time. The official said he could not reveal the name of
the village at this point.
Yet a third official told the Post he
suspected that the local Palestinian governments were unwilling to connect their
villages due to “political reasons” – simply “because they don’t want to
recognize Israel as a presence in the area.”
The Palestinian Water
Authority could not be reached by press time.