PA is allowing its residents to cause environmental, archaeological damage - opinion

I appeal to the American people: Your tax dollars that are being funneled to the Palestinian Authority are not helping the Arab population under its rule.

 THE WRITER stands on an illegal garbage dump near Dir Kadis. (photo credit: International Desk, Binyamin Regional Council)
THE WRITER stands on an illegal garbage dump near Dir Kadis.
(photo credit: International Desk, Binyamin Regional Council)

In the 20th century, the Jewish people regained sovereignty over the Land of Israel and its capital, Jerusalem. The return to the homeland, as foretold by the prophets of Israel, comes not only with natural and historic rights, but with great responsibilities as well. Namely, to safeguard the very land itself – its earth, water sources, trees, and all the rest of the magnificent and diverse nature it contains – for ourselves and future generations.

The State of Israel – the state of the Jewish people – is the sovereign between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Israel is the only enlightened and democratic state in the Middle East and is responsible for the geographical center of the world. This small, successful country is conducting campaigns on several fronts. 

Israel has to continue to make clear to the West that Iran is continuing its path to nefarious nuclear capabilities; has to battle Arab terror with the IDF’s hands very often tied behind their back, and is combating the boycott movement that receives backing from leading European states.

Perhaps the last point is why Israel is not fulfilling its obligation to sound the alarm on the loss of natural resources in Israel and the surrounding Middle East – because when struggling against nuclear armament, who has the energy or time to attend to air being wantonly polluted, the indiscriminate contamination of water, or the destruction of ancient heritage sites that are thousands of years old?

That is exactly what is happening in the heartland of the Bible, the cradle of Israel’s civilization. Under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority, its residents are damaging the environment and continuing the legacy of al-Qaeda and ISIS by damaging and destroying antiquities and archaeological sites. There is wholesale looting and destruction of remnants of the glorious history of the nation of Israel, an integral part of world heritage.

 Police and security personnel at the scene of a terror attack in Jerusalem, on November 23, 2022. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90) Police and security personnel at the scene of a terror attack in Jerusalem, on November 23, 2022. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

The polluting of the local air and water courses, as well as illegal waste management on a massive scale, are felt almost every day in one way or another by hundreds of thousands of Israeli residents who live in Judea and Samaria, and whose health and well being are directly affected by it. Residents of the PA have developed a cheap method to dispose of their local garbage – incineration.

The millions of dollars that the US and EU are transferring to the PA’s coffers are finding their way to the wrong places. Those funds should be being used to improve infrastructure, roads and waste treatment plants. Instead, their condition is only getting worse. There is an opportunity here “going to waste.”

THROUGHOUT THE Binyamin Region, the largest rural jurisdiction in Judea and Samaria, garbage is being burned at 60 illegal waste disposal sites every day. The PA, and the municipalities operating under it, allow their residents to dump garbage and burn it at these unauthorized sites. This is not an oversight. This is an intentional policy.

The destruction of antiquities in Judea and Samaria has also become systematic. With no one to impede them, antiquities thieves go to archaeological sites, many of which are thousands of years old, and use modern earth-moving equipment to plunder and destroy ancient royal palaces, burial grounds and synagogues. Many sites associated with biblical figures and events have already been obliterated or badly damaged, leaving the Jewish people and the world with nothing but photographs and diagrams from decades ago.

Israel knows that raising a cry against such “trivialities” is a non-existent privilege. Israel must turn the little international attention granted her to fight for the very right to exist, against threats from Iran and Hamas. When Israel tries to introduce order and preserve the quality of the air and the environment in Judea and Samaria, such complaints are not granted any legitimacy. Instead, they are met with criticism and antipathy, which in turn allows for more smoke and contaminants that pollute the air and water for us all. 

It is a travesty that is all the more frustrating given that Israel is a pioneer and world leader in advanced water treatment and management, as well as possessing numerous other technologies and techniques for cleaning up and protecting the environment.

What is happening here every day is a travesty. Beware of the continued contamination of natural resources, and the destruction of antiquities. I appeal to the American people: Your tax dollars that are being funneled to the Palestinian Authority are not helping the Arab population under its rule. That money is being burned on the wrong things, while smoke gets into our lungs and harms our health.

The damage caused by the unsupervised transfer of funds – with no coordination with Israeli authorities – harms all of us in the land, as well as causes irrevocable harm to physical remnants of the biblical and archaeological record that we in Israel, as well as the secular and Christian worlds, hold so dear. Conservatives, liberals, religious and secular, peace lovers and environmentalists, this is your cause. 

Do not stand by quietly while the fires rage and the region suffers. And don’t say we didn’t tell you.

The writer is head of the Binyamin Regional Council. Ilan Pomeranc contributed to this opinion piece.