The Green Israel Forum documented an illegal Arab quarry being operated in lands belonging to the Nachal Arugot Nature Reserve in the Judean Desert. Despite an enforcement operation the quarry has returned to full capacity.
Green Israel Forum Director Gilad Ach said “The harm to the environment is irreversible. We are losing our scenic landscapes and must put an end to this immediately.”
The area in question is in Area B, however it was agreed in the Oslo Accords that it would serve as a nature reserve. The Civil Administration is responsible for enforcement of this agreement, however it has failed to do so and the illegal quarry has encroached on land dedicated to the nature reserve and harmed the surrounding environment.
In total, the illegal quarry in Nachal Arugot is spread over 13.7 dunam (3.38 acres), including dozens of mining sites along the Arugot River. The quarrying is done throughout the day and late at night. Materials are put on trucks and taken via the Allenby Bridge to Jordan. There, the stone is sold as ‘Jerusalem Stone’ and the quarries themselves are referred to as ‘Al Marbel Jerusalem Stone.’
In addition, at the Hatzatzon River nearby, the Palestinian Authority attempted to establish a cement factory but was thwarted by the Harshayida Tribe of the Bedouin. The factory would have strongly polluted the area due to the chemicals used with the byproducts draining into the Dead Sea. While this plan did not come to fruition, it demonstrates the goals of the Palestinian Authority and their clear disregard of the environment.