Al-Haq is pleased to announce the publication of “Pillage of the Dead Sea: Israel’s Unlawful Exploitation of Natural Resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” The report examines Israel’s responsibilities with respect to the treatment of the occupied territory’s natural resources in the Dead Sea area, and reiterates that, under international humanitarian law, Israel is obliged to administer the natural resources belonging to the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) without damaging or diminishing them. Accordingly, it is prohibited from exploiting them in a way that undermines their capital and results in economic benefits for Israeli citizens, including settlers, or for its national economy.
By granting substantial financial benefits to the settlers, as well as by licensing Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories Ltd., 44.5 per cent of whose shares are owned by the settlements of ‘Mitzpe Shalem’ and ‘Kalia,’ to mine and manufacture products that utilise the mud extracted from the occupied Dead Sea area, Israel is openly in violation of its obligations as an Occupying Power in the OPT. It is encouraging and facilitating the exploitation of Palestinian natural resources and actively assisting their pillaging by private actors.
Commenting on the report, Shawan Jabarin, General Director of Al-Haq, said, “The Israeli authorities are denying Palestinians access to their natural resources all across the OPT, but this practice is particularly evident in the occupied Dead Sea area. This also clearly demonstrates how Israel is benefiting economically from the occupation. Given that the settlers in the area and Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories directly profit from the appropriation of the Dead Sea natural resources and from the trade of the products extracted and processed in this region, they should be considered as primary perpetrators of the war crime of pillage.”
In light of the serious nature of the violations of international law committed in the occupied Dead Sea area, this report calls on the Israeli authorities to immediately stop the pillaging of the Palestinian natural resources and halt the concession of substantial financial incentives to settlers living in the area. Israel must also revoke the mud mining permission granted to Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories Ltd. in 2004.
Third-party States are called on to abide by their international legal obligations and must take concrete measures to pressure Israel to bring to an end its violations of international humanitarian law. In addition, they must refrain from providing any form of assistance to such violations, including by maintaining business relationships with economic actors allegedly involved in pillage in the occupied Dead Sea area.
For its part, the European Union (EU) must ensure that only Israeli entities registered and established in Israel and conducting activities in Israel proper, are able to participate in European programmes, and adopt restrictive measures on the import of Israeli products originating from settlements, because of the serious violations of peremptory norms of international law that settlements and their related infrastructure entail.