Rights group: Israel must end illegal exploitation of Dead Sea
Published Monday 03/09/2012 (updated) 05/09/2012 10:12
Palm trees are seen near the shore of the Dead Sea on Nov. 9, 2011.
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities must end the exploitation of Palestinian natural resources in the Dead Sea, including granting financial concessions to Israeli settlers and companies in the area, a human rights group said Monday.
The Al-Haq report says Israel gives its own citizens the sole opportunity to benefit from the resource-rich area of the occupied West Bank, at the expense of Palestinians, which "could amount to the war crime of pillage."
The salty desert lake, some 422 meters below sea level, and its environs were designated as Area C, under full Israeli control, under the 1993 Oslo Accords.
Al-Haq says the settler population has since bloomed, while Palestinian communities are decreasing.
Giving financial benefits to settlers, as well as the sole mud-mining license to an Israeli company, Ahava, of which 44.5 percent of shares are owned by settlements, facilitates the exploitation of Palestinian resources, the report says.
Meanwhile, the group warns that unsustainable water extraction and mining techniques have caused the major decrease in water levels at the lake.
Al-Haq director Shawan Jabarin said the exploitation of the Dead Sea "clearly demonstrates how Israel is benefiting economically from the occupation."
The group also calls on the European Union to stop Ahava from taking part in projects it funds, which earned the minerals and cosmetics operation 1.13 million euros in 2011.
Further, it argues that "worldwide cosmetic retailers should provide their customers with clear information about the origin of the products that are sold in their stores."