Israel wants it all. For
decades, it's been systematically stealing Palestinian land and resources.
Al Haq's new report provides more evidence. Titled "Pillage of the Dead
Sea: Israel's Unlawful Exploitation of Natural Resources in the Occupied
Palestinian Territory," it details grand theft and war crimes. They
benefit Jews by harming Palestinians. More on it below.
Yesh Din defends Palestinian human rights. It exposes Israeli abuses.
It champions long denied accountability.
In March 2009, it petitioned Israel's High Court of Justice (HCJ). It
wants lawless West Bank mining operations stopped. Israel and 11 Israeli
corporations steal Palestinian resources rightfully theirs. It demanded
all quarrying and mining activities cease.
It argued that Israeli companies pillage Palestinian resources for profit
and Israel's benefit. Doing so also violates fundamental international
law. As an occupying power, Israel is obligated to protect, not exploit,
On December 26, 2011, the HCJ rejected Yesh Din's petition. It sanctioned
lawless pillage. On January 10, 2012, Yesh Din requested another hearing
before a broader panel of judges.
Seven distinguished Israeli legal experts stood with Yesh Din. They
took issue with the Court's ruling. Their collective opinion matters.
It provides greater impact.
On July 25, 2012, the HCJ spurned Yesh Din again. In his decision, retired
Deputy President Judge Eliezer Rivlin said the December 2011 ruling
rejected Yesh Din's petition mainly because Israel and the Palestinian
Authority addressed the issue earlier. They agreed to an interim 1995
He failed to explain its terms. It explicitly said "quarries must be
transferred to the Palestinian side within 18 months." Israel still
controls them. The Court's ruling OK'd its right to steal.
Seven leading international law experts disagree. They unequivocally
call Israel's mining operations lawless. In their judgment, the Court's
ruling was troublesome. Judge Rivlin addressed their opinion, saying:
"I did not ignore the opinion of the experts on international law submitted
in support of the petitioner's argument. The learned opinion raises
important questions and analyzes them most skillfully and eruditely."
"However, in the concrete circumstances of this case, since no precedent
was set in the decision that would justify a further hearing, there
is no need to discuss them at this stage."
In response, Yesh Din attorney Shlomy Zachary said:
"This decision by the High Court of Justice recognizes the serious flaws
of the court's decision on the original petition, and mutes its conclusions."
"The court is also aware that the decision's determinations must be
decided in the future, and therefore the decision on the concrete matter
cannot serve as a binding precedent."
"The opinion of the leading experts from Israel's universities, submitted
as part of this case, added another level that reinforced the need to
minimize the determinations about this matter, and we welcome that."
Israel's High Court tried having it both ways. In initially rejecting
Yesh Din's petition, HCJ President Dorit Beinisch said:
"The belligerent occupation of Israel in the area has some unique characteristics,
primarily the duration of the occupation period that requires the adjustment
of the law to the reality on the ground, which imposes a duty upon Israel
to ensure normal life for a period, which…is certainly long-term."
At the same time, the Court spurned international law. It also dismissed
the opinion of seven distinguished Israeli legal experts.
Their judgment is indisputable. Rule of law principles back it. It carries
weight. It concluded saying "the license granted to Israeli corporations
to mine exhaustible natural minerals in territory under belligerent
occupation is illegal."
High Court judges know it but ignored them and fundamental international
law anyway. Their ruling was not only dishonest, it was convoluted.
Outrageously, the Court said militarized occupation and Israeli Civil
Administration operations benefit Palestinians. In other words, controlling
them at the point of a gun and pillaging their resources helps. How,
the Court didn't explain. It merely said:
"Royalties paid to the Civil Administration by the operators of the
quarries are used to finance the operations of the military administration,
which promotes various kinds of projects aimed to benefit the interests
of the area."
Stealing what's theirs doesn't help. Military occupation spurns their
rights. Employment for small numbers of Palestinians at slave wages
neither benefits them or the collective population.
Virtually all resources mined help Israel and its settlements. Mining
fees, levies, and royalties flow straight to Israeli state coffers.
Palestinians are denied what's rightfully theirs.
Al Haq's report offers more proof. Black's Law Dictionary calls pillage
"the forcible taking of private property by an invading or conquering
army from the enemy's subjects."
The 1907 Hague Regulations, Fourth Geneva, and other international laws
prohibit doing so under all circumstances. The Statute of International
Criminal Court calls "pillaging a town or place, even when taken by
assault," a war crime.
Various military manuals prohibit pillage/plunder. The UN and other
international organizations condemn it. Looting is absolutely forbidden.
It's punishable under international, military, and general statute laws.
Israel spurns rule of law principles in all forms. Al Haq calls exploiting
West Bank resources "the war crime of pillage." Its report examines
Israeli Dead Sea area operations.
It's "prohibited from exploiting them in a way that undermines their
capital and results in economic benefits for Israeli citizens, including
settlers, or for its national economy."
The Dead Sea borders Jordan and Israel to the east and the West Bank
to the west. It's in the Jordan Rift Valley. It lies over 400 meters
below sea level.
It's 67 km long, 377 meters deep, and 18 km across at its widest point.
With 33.7% salinity, it's one of the world's saltiest water bodies.
In 1967, Israel seized control. Jordan previously controlled the area.
Oslo granted Israel military and administrative control. Vast land areas
became closed military zones. Palestinians are denied entry to land
Since 1967, pillage accompanied occupation. Palestinians were dispossessed
from their own land and resources. Israel stole and exploited the Dead
Sea and surrounding areas by declaring them "State land." No legal basis
whatever permits doing so.
Numerous military orders violate international law. It's been twisted,
inverted, manipulated, distorted, undermined, and spurned to justify
Israel invents its own version of reality. Orwellian doublespeak defines
it. Fundamental occupying power obligations are violated. State authorities
and settlers reap benefits.
At the same time, unsustainable water extraction and mining methods
let water levels decrease significantly.
Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories was licensed to steal. It mines Dead Sea
mud. It's used for company products. Al Haq's General Director, Shawan
"The Israeli authorities are denying Palestinians access to their natural
resources all across the OPT, but this practice is particularly evident
in the occupied Dead Sea area. This also clearly demonstrates how Israel
is benefiting economically from the occupation."
"Given that the settlers in the area and Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories
directly profit from the appropriation of the Dead Sea natural resources
and from the trade of the products extracted and processed in this region,
they should be considered as primary perpetrators of the war crime of
Consumers have a right to know that Ahava operates illegally. Its products
use stolen Palestinian resources. Doing so costs them nearly $150 million
Ahava's based in Mitzpe Shalem settlement. It lies on the Dead Sea's
western shore. It's Israel's only company licensed to mine area mud,
silt, sand, gravel, and other minerals.
It operates subsidiaries in America, Britain and Germany. Its products
have unique cosmetic qualities. They're used for various skin disorders.
Exports provide about 60% of its revenue. The remaining 40% comes from
Israel and tourism.
The Dead Sea has unique geographical, mineral, climatic, and archeological
features. Its natural resource riches include ground and surface water,
springs, and minerals. It's a potential world heritage site.
Its landscapes are stunning. Its climate is mild. Its potential for
economic development is significant. Its tourism, industry, and agriculture
Israeli development plans include hotels, water parks, shopping malls,
and urban facilities. Enhanced mineral and water extraction are also
planned. Palestinians are entirely deprived of what's rightfully theirs.
The area is also environmentally vulnerable. Its ecosystem is endangered.
At issue is over-extraction and other abuses. The Jordan River Basin's
water system is affected. Large sinkholes emerged. As many as 3,000
exist. Dead Sea shrinkage is worrisome. It's divided into two lakes.
Upstream water diversion projects and southern Dead Sea mining caused
serious sea level erosion. Over-exploitation is destroying the area.
Domestic, agricultural, and industrial wastewater flows directly into
the Dead Sea. Surrounding land areas are affected.
In 2004, Ahava got illegal mining rights. Authority granting them must
cease and desist. Third-party states must demand it. Pressuring Israel
to stop violating international law is vital. Aiding and abetting lawlessness
can't be tolerated.
Relations with Ahava and other Israeli companies profiteering from pillage
must cease. Importing their products is illegal. Everything originating
from settlements should be barred. Failure to do so constitutes complicity
with grand theft and war crimes. Israel is a serial abuser.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized
Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge
discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News
Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time
and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy