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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Israel urged to halt 'illegal' exploitation

Tue, 10 Mar 2009 09:12:26 GMT | PressTV

An Israeli human rights group has appealed to the Supreme Court to freeze all 'illegal' Israeli mining operations in the West Bank.

The group, Yesh Din, on Monday filed a petition at the Supreme Court, accusing Israel of breaking international law by exploiting the occupied territory's resources for its own gain.

"Israeli mining activity in West Bank quarries is illegal and executed through brutal economic exploitation of occupied territory for the economic needs of the State of Israel, the occupying power," argued the Israeli human rights group.

Naming 11 companies and corporations that operate quarries in the West Bank, the group added that "according to international law, this kind of activity is a violation of occupation laws as well as of human rights laws and, in certain cases, might be defined as pillage."

According to the complaint, the mining removes 12 million tons of stone and gravel each year from the West Bank, 9 million tons of which are used for the economic benefit of Israel and private Israeli companies.

The group petition demanded that all mining activities be halted immediately and that no new mining permits be issued, and called for the involvement of the army to enforce the ban and ensure an end to the "illegal mining across the West Bank".

The rules of occupation ban the occupying power from exploiting the territories under its domain for its own needs.

Long-term Israeli construction plans show the authorities intend to continue relying on materials from the West Bank over the next 30 years, says the group, leaving the territory "empty of natural resources."

Israel, which has occupied the West Bank since 1967, rejects the assertions.

On Monday, local Palestinian sources reported that Israeli military forces confiscated over 50 dunums of farmland (50,000 square meters) around the West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron) for the purpose of constructing a Jewish-only road for an Israeli settlement illegally constructed near the Palestinian town.

The Israeli government recently approved a plan to expand Israeli settlements in the West Bank by 15,000 units. Approval for another 58,000 units is currently pending.

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