Ariel and Barqan Colonies … A Real Threat to Palestinian Environment

Ariel and Barqan Colonies … A Real Threat to Palestinian Environment
Monitoring Israeli Colonial Violations
Violation: drowning agricultural lands with sewage water of the settlements.
Violators: Ariel and Barqan colonists.
Victims: Bruqin residents, especially the ones living nearby the Israeli colonies.
Date: during 2009.
Location: Bruqin.

Bruqin village, located to the south east of Salfit, is considered a living sample of the daily Palestinian suffering caused by the dumping of sewage water of the nearby colonies of Arial and Barqan. The sewage water is still flowing from the eastern and southern sides of the village. Moreover, dumping the hard waste around the village represents another serious threat.
It must be pointed that most of the structures in Ariel are connected to a sewage network which in turn gathers all the sewage in areas called ‘Baten al Hamam’ and ‘Wadi al Bir’, both areas are located to the west of Salfit. When plenty sewage water is collected it is pumped into a stream that flows through Bruqin and between the villagers houses until it reaches Kafr ad Dik village. It must be known that the furthest the sewage goes, the more the soil absorbs from it causing more and more damage to the soil.
Picture 1+2: Ariel colony sewage flowing in ‘Wadi al Matwi’ area.
In Salfit city, the sewage water flows as near as 4 meters from ‘Al Matwi’ well which provides 30% of the locals with the necessary drinking water. The well pumps around 30m3 a day. According to the water authority in Salfit, ‘Al Matwi’ well is catastrophically polluted with ‘Colon fecal bacteria’, so, the health department is forced to do extra purifying measures before the water is pumped.
It is obvious for the visitor of ‘Wadi al Matwi’ that the area has become forsaken because of the spread of pest, rats along the terrible smells. Furthermore, weeds are growing intensely in the area.
A farmer who owns land in the area said: ‘ The area was vital for the farmers and residents alike, it was full of big orchards and farms. However, most of the farmers left the area because of the increasing amounts of sewage and because of that, most people could not trust the healthiness of the products of that area, suspecting that plants might be watered using sewage. Moreover, the area has become full of wild boars that destroy the crops’.
The situation in Bruqin is ‘catastrophic’ as seen by the locals, the hazards threatens people, animals, and the environment as a whole. The sewage stream flows for a bout 1 km in the eastern side of the village and passes through the villagers houses. At least 20 households directly suffer from the consequences. The locals terribly suffer from the horrible smells, pests especially mosquitoes, and rats, these cause the spread of diseases among the citizens, so they use different kinds of chemicals in an attempt of getting rid of the insects. Hasan Abdul Latif commented:
‘ I spend on anti mosquitoes more than I spend on bread’.
Mohammad Raja, 19 years, lives with his family about 50 meters away from the streaming sewage, he described the situation as follows: ‘ first of all there is the terrible smell, especially in the afternoons and evenings. There mosquitoes of every size and type which renders us sleepless. We use different kinds of pest controls but they are useless because of the large numbers of bugs. My sister ‘Saja’, 7 months old, suffers more than any of us, her skin is sensitive and she suffers from permanent rash because of the stings, we have to take her to hospital twice a week. Previously, my grandfather became ill with leishmania, after being sting by a mosquito, he had to receive treatment for a period of six months’.  
Obstacles put by the Israeli Occupation against constructing water purifying plant:
Salfit Municipality made several initiatives in order to construct a water purifying plant to limit the hazards caused by polluted water; finally, they received funds from the KFW for the project. The municipality assigned a special committee for building the plant. After choosing a suitable spot and purchasing the required land, they did not receive construction permit from the Israeli Occupation Authorities who said that the spot designed for the construction is within areas classified ‘C’ according to Oslo agreement, meaning that the area is under Israeli security and civic affairs. They said that they would grant them the permits only if the plant was built in collaboration with Ariel colony. The Municipality rejected the suggestion since any collaboration with the colony gives its existence legitimacy.
The municipality tried to find an alternative site, one under its jurisdiction, nevertheless, building in the alternative site will dramatically increase costs, in addition, since 80% of the polluted water comes from Ariel, building in any alternative site will solve 20% of the problem which renders it useless.
Till today, no solution has been found. Officials say that the problem and its solution have gone further than an environmental issue and it has become political. Some Israeli organizations blamed Palestinians for the halt of construction of the plant since they refused collaboration with the colony.
Sewage flowing from Barqan industrial zone:
On the other side of Bruqin, the industrial zone of Barqan pumps its sewage towards grazing areas located in the northern side of Bruqin. Plantations in Barqan produce food products besides vehicle oil, vehicle spare parts, batteries, artificial leather, medical instruments, and plastic. Various chemicals are involved in the production of such manufactured goods.
Picture 3+4: Barqan sewage pumped in Palestinian Burqin
In addition to the terrible smell, the spreading of diseases, insects,  rats, and soil pollution, flowing of sewage in the area threatens livestock. On the one hand, if the cattle drinks polluted water or feed on the weeds, it could get sick and probably die. On the other hand, even if the cattle did drink polluted water; people become very careful when it comes to consuming products of cattle living in the area, afraid of acquiring diseases. People now prefer buying products from areas other than Salfit which drastically damaged the business.
Picture 5+6: Bruqin drowning in surrounding colonies sewage
Hasan Abdul Latif, 50 years old from Bruqin, a worker and the sole supporter of nine members’ family, he used to own 90 goats and used to highly depend on the income they produce. He said in an interview with LRC field worker:
‘Four years ago, I owned 90 goats, they used to depend solely on grazing as main food. I used to sell their cheese and milk to town and folks of the surrounding areas. I used to set them free in the shepherds fields in ‘Wadi al Matwi’. Suddenly, it appeared to me that some of the goats are not feeling well so I showed them to a veterinary who said that the goats have Theileria caused by poisoning. 50 of them died of the disease and I sold the rest but two that I left for my own use’.


Categories: Environment