In an unusual turn of events, Palestinian Authority security forces on Tuesday fired in the air at Palestinian protesters at the site of a proposed landfill in Area C of the West Bank.
The landfill was designed to serve 320,000 inhabitants of greater Ramallah who generate about 300 tons of trash daily.
In the absence of an adequate solution, they are using some 78 private trash sites that pollute the environment and endanger groundwater.
The Joint Service Council for Solid Waste Management, which is in charge of building the landfill, sent workers to the site on Tuesday morning to clear the land for construction.
The project has upset both Palestinians and settlers, who have joined together to stop construction. Palestinians from the village of Ramun have petitioned the High Court of Justice to halt the project.
Husain Abuoun, executive director of the Joint Service Council, said Palestinian security forces accompanied the workers to prevent any violence, such as that which occurred last year at this time when work appeared about to commence.
Abuoun sought and received permission for Tuesday’s activities from both the IDF and the Civil Administration. The approval included the presence of Palestinian Authority security forces in Area C – an unusual move, because Area C is under Israeli civil and military control.
When the workers arrived, they were met by angry Palestinian protesters who wanted to burn equipment at the site. Palestinian police fired in the air to restore order.
At that point, Abuoun decided to withdraw the workers.
To ensure that the project can move forward, he said the council purchased 100 dunams of land last year, half of what is needed for the landfill.
“Right now we own half the land,” he said.
If the violence continues, he is not sure that the project can continue.
Palestinians in the area are not the only ones angered by the project. Environmental groups and the Binyamin Regional Council, under whose auspices the landfill will be located, are also up in arms.
The Society for the Protection of Nature and Green Now claim the landfill will harm the environment because it borders a nature reserve. In addition, settlers are angry that they will not be able to use the landfill.
Green Now, along with local Palestinians, petitioned the High Court of Justice to halt the project. Work is not supposed to proceed until the court hearings are over, Tomer Israel, Green Now’s attorney, said.
Settlers are also upset that the IDF allowed Palestinian security forces to operate in Area C.
The future landfill is slated to be located near the Rimonim Junction south of Road 449 and east of Road 458, just north of the Nahal Makoch Nature Reserve in the northern Judean Desert.
Itchie Meir, who is director-general of Samaria's Municipal Environmental Association said that he had turned to MK Moti Yogev (Bayit HaYehudi) who heads the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee's sub-group on Judea and Samaria.
"I've urgently asked him to hold a meeting on the matter," he said.