We already know a lot about the West, and yet even the Israeli government seems unaware of the waste management systems in other parts of the occupied territories.
That’s the result of a new report by the Israeli Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) which looks at the waste-management system at Beit Adumim, the settlement near Ramallah that has been the subject of Israeli criticism and has been linked to the death of a Palestinian teenager, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, in 2013.
The institute analyzed a large number of documents from Israel’s waste management ministry, including reports from waste treatment companies and an assessment of the system’s efficiency.
The IISS report was first published in Hebrew and translated by The Jerusalem Report, a Palestinian-language news outlet.
The institute found that, while the West bank’s waste-treatment systems are relatively efficient, they do not compare favorably with those in other Israeli settlements.
“The West Bank has not managed waste-related issues in a sustainable way since the construction of the West Wall in the 1990s, when a number of Israeli settlements built illegally, with no permit, with only limited water and sewage facilities, and with few waste management and recycling facilities were built,” the report states.
The report also reveals that the waste treatment system at Adum, which has been built by Israeli contractor ICTM since 2001, is “one of the most inefficient systems in the West that we know of.”
“The waste management [system] is highly complex and inefficient, it is inefficient, the management of the wastes is not centralized and there are problems with waste disposal, especially at the edges of the settlement,” said IISS Director of Research Dr. Avi Mizrahi.
“We have no doubt that in the coming years, if not decades, the waste systems of the settlements will not be the same as those of the Israeli settlements,” he added.
“But this is not necessarily the case with the Westbank settlements.
We have seen in the past, and this is true in the present, that the West is in the process of achieving its sustainability goals.”
The Iiss report finds that there is “no clear picture of how the West has managed the waste, especially since the early 1990s” and concludes that “a lot of progress has been made, but much work remains.”
In particular, the IISS found that “there has been no improvement in the performance of the management and waste handling systems of settlements built with foreign investors.”
It also found that waste management in the settlement of Migdal HaSharon, “the most important West Bank site for the settlement industry,” is “underperforming.”
The report highlights “the large volume of waste from the settlement’s construction,” which is “often stored in the [disposal] pits of the building sites and is often distributed to local households and communities in order to cover the costs of the construction,” and “the lack of waste-storage facilities in the settlements.”
The institute also found “significant gaps” in the waste disposal system of the three settlements, noting that “the waste management infrastructure in Migdal, Beit She’an and Kiryat Arba has yet to be developed, despite extensive investments in waste-collection infrastructure and waste-disposal technology, as well as the installation of waste storage units in each of these settlements.”
While there is a waste-processing plant at Beilin, “there is not enough capacity to handle the waste that comes from the [distribution] of the municipality,” and the waste of construction is “disposed of in open pits, rather than being transported to a waste disposal facility.”
In a statement, IISS said that “we continue to work on improving the waste system and on improving waste management for the settlements and the Palestinian Authority, and we expect the results of our work will be published soon.”
“The work of the Institute for the Analysis of Waste (IAW), a joint venture of the Israel Institute for Science and Technology (IDOT) and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is part of an ongoing effort to develop and publish an analysis of waste management processes in the occupied Palestinian territories,” the institute added.
“We believe that our findings will contribute to the realization of these objectives.”
“The study was completed without any formal authorization from the Israeli or Palestinian governments,” IISS added.
“This report is a work of justice and truth that will help Israel and the Palestinians improve their waste-handling systems, and it is in line with our mission to bring transparency and accountability to waste management,” IISN director of research Dr. Amnon Ben-David told The Jerusalem Times.
“This is not a new issue, and there is nothing new in it.
I am not going to hide my opinions, but we are doing something about it.”