NGO petitions court against sewage plant near Ofra

Israeli human rights group tells High Court of Justice to halt IDF plans to open a sewage treatment plant on land belonging to private Palestinians.

June 3, 2013 05:23
2 minute read.
Mapal Green Energy sewage treatment.

Mapal Green Energy 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The High Court of Justice must halt IDF plans to open a sewage treatment plant by the Ofra settlement on land that belongs to private Palestinians from the nearby village of Ein Yabrud, the NGO Yesh Din said in a petition to the court on Sunday.

The Israeli human rights group said that in February, the Environmental Subcommittee of the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria said it was working to authorize the plant.

Yesh Din said the subcommittee favored opening the plant after a water engineer assessment said that the plant offered the best solution for regional sewage treatment and that the plant would serve both Ofra and nearby Palestinian villages such as Ein Yabrud.

The plant has already been constructed, but additional work is needed before it can be operational.

However, in its petition to the High Court of Justice, Yesh Din attacked the credentials of the water experts and said the report had a number of errors and inaccuracies.

“The author of the document addresses a wide range of issues [security, planning, surveying, etc.] that have nothing to do with his field of expertise. Accordingly, it is difficult to understand why his opinion should be used as a source for the decision,” the NGO said and added that other available options were not considered.

It said the plant only has the capacity to treat sewage from Ofra and will not be able to handle the sewage from nearby Palestinian villages.

This is the second time Yesh Din has filed a petition against the plant. Its first 2009 petition resulted in a HCJ injunction barring the Civil Administration from opening the plant until the legal status of the land had been resolved.

According to Yesh Din, the IDF’s solution to the debate of ownership would be to confiscate the land. It added that an initiative to purchase the property had failed.

“An attempt is being made to create the false impression that this sewage plant could function as a regional plant and could also serve the Palestinian villages in the areas. According to the data presented by the state itself, the capacity of this sewage plant is sufficient only for the settlement of Ofra,” said Yesh Din’s attorney Shlomi Zacharia.

“Israel has repeatedly undertaken in court, and in diplomatic agreements, not to confiscate private Palestinian land for the needs of the settlements. Now, however, the state is attempting to justify its own violation of the law,” Zacharia said.

He added that other legal options are available.

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