A new position paper by Yesh Din, The Great Drain, demonstrates how, since the Supreme Court authorized Israel’s continued quarrying activities in the West Bank, the operations have continued with even greater vigor, allowing the State of Israel to prosper economically from the continued occupation.
The Israeli quarrying industry’s dependency on local mining, or mining in close proximity, is almost absolute, due to the shipping costs which significantly raise the price of similar imported products. Over 20 percent of the State of Israel’s general consumption comes from the quarries (Israeli and Palestinian) in the occupied territories. Israel’s economic interests do not end there ‒ between 2009 and 2015 the Civil Administration received royalties worth over NIS 285 million from quarries in Area C of the West Bank.
“Decades of Israeli looting of natural resources in the West Bank are the embodiment of colonialism. In practice, the Supreme Court ruling has rendered meaningless the acceptable interpretation of international humanitarian law, leaving in place the continued, irreversible exploitation of the occupied territories for the Israeli’s economic purposes,” the position paper states.
The position paper demonstrates how, because of the Supreme Court’s rejection of a petition submitted by Yesh Din in 2009, the Israeli quarrying industry in the West Bank has expanded significantly. According to data acquired by the NGO in 2008, one year before submitting its petition, 12 million tons of gravel was mined in Area C of the West Bank (Israeli and Palestinian quarries); within seven years, this amount rose by 40 percent, and in 2015 reached 17 million tons of stolen gravel in a year.
Moreover, Israel has an explicit and direct economic interest in increasing the number of quarries in the West Bank. From the data provided to Yesh Din, in 2009 the permission fees and royalties paid to the Civil Administration for using the quarries stood at over NIS 28 million. In 2015, The Civil Administration received over NIS 74 million on permission fees and royalties for quarrying on West Bank land. In total, between 2009 and 2015, the Civil Administration has accrued royalties worth over NIS 285 million from quarries in Area C of the West Bank.
Official State documents indicate that the Israeli authorities have a long-term plan to rely on the mining potential in the West Bank for at least the next 30 years. This strategic planning reveals the State’s intentions to continue to exploit the military occupation for its economic interests, while depleting the natural resources in the occupied territories and irreversibly damaging the Palestinians’ ability to utilize these natural resources.