The Dotan Valley
The Dotan Valley Hagai Huberman

An abundance of Arab coal mines near the Dotan Valley in the north-western part of Samaria has caused problems for Jewish residents in the area and even for IDF soldiers operating nearby.

Israel’s Environment Ministry will soon begin an extensive operation to close the illegal Arab coal mines in the Dotan Valley, which is mostly populated by Arab villages, a notable exception being the community of Mevo Dotan.

Shomron Regional Council Mayor Gershon Mesika told Arutz 7 earlier this week that the coal mines have caused the IDF to consider shutting down its bases in the area and to order soldiers to wear gas masks during certain hours of the day, all due to the heavy smoke and pollution being emitted from the coal mines.

“The Dotan Valley has become the land of the coal mines,” said Mesika. “Every meter they open another mine that operates and emits smoke 24 hours a day. It creates smoke and toxic materials instead of the green that could be here. It’s unbearable. At some hours of the day, the wind causes the smoke to drift towards communities such as Mevo Dotan, and during that time it’s impossible to stay there.”

Mesika emphasized that these illegal mines are located in the C Area which is under full Israeli control. “If a Jew would do such a thing, he would be shut down immediately. But here they are celebrating and no one here says anything about it.”

He said that this phenomenon is a direct result of the Oslo Accords, which divided the area into three sections (A, B, and C) and allowed the Arab residents of Jenin to move the coal mines into the C Area in order to make it easier for them to sell their coal products to people who reside outside of Judea and Samaria.

“We contacted the Chief of Staff, the Minister of Defense and the Minister of the Environment,” said Mesika. “After two years we received information that they are going to shut down several mines. Unfortunately not all of them.”

He estimated that the shutting down of the coal mines will not cause tensions between the Arabs and the IDF since, as he put it “the Arabs agree that the situation is intolerable. We’re not talking about destruction of houses. We believe that the move can be completed with relative ease,” concluded Mesika.

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