Issa Samandar, The Electronic Intifada, 19 May 2005
It was just a matter of time before the world would find out about Israel's nuclear activities in the Naqab desert. In 1986, Mordechai Vanunu, a nuclear technician at Demona nuclear plant, reported to The London Sunday Times what everybody already knew. Israel has secret nuclear weapons programs to protect itself from its neighbouring enemy countries.
Israel is not a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which should put Israel in a difficult spot on the international scene, as it had always denied having any nuclear weapons programs. Nevertheless, the international community turned a blind eye to this issue. However, the issue here is not whether Israel is permitted to have such programs, but is related to the consequences of nuclear activities. More specifically, what is Israel adding to the 56 year old occupation of the Palestinian people?
The very reason for the establishment of the International Agency for Atomic Energy (IAAE) was the deep fears and expectations resulting from the discovery of atomic energy. Its fortunes are uniquely geared to this controversial technology that can be used either as a weapon or as a practical and useful tool. Although its practicality is commonly used all around the world, its waste management should be too. However for Israel, this environmental sound waste management seemed not necessary, and I wonder why?
There have been reports that Demona's nuclear waste is dumped in El Dahriyè, a Palestinian village, South of El-Khalil or commonly known as Hebron.1 First, big holes are dug in the ground, then the waste is dumped followed by a cement cover up, on which fake rocks are placed that are sealed with screws. The surrounding villages were not informed about these hazardous practices. Instead they learned about it through an increase of their communities' alarming health problems, which are solely caused by being exposed to nuclear radio-activity.
Doctor Thabayneh Khalil, a researcher from Hebron University reported that there is an alarming increase of radio-activity in the Southern area of Hebron that exceeds all natural radio-activity readings in the world.2
The uranium level in El-Khalil valley reaches 237 becquerel (bcq) per kilogram3, which equals about 10 times the permitted concentration, which is 25 bcq. The Thorium 232 (Th) level reaches 152 bcq where the permitted concentration level is also 25 bcq. The readings on Cesium 137 (Cs), another radio-active isotope that only emerges from nuclear explosions or nuclear activities is equivalently high.
The permitted concentration is zero, but in 5 villages South of El-Khalil, its concentration ranges from 12.4 bcq up to 30.2 bcq. The list of radio-active isotope readings is from the same range causing serious damages to the health of the villagers in the area.
From El Dahriyè village, already 452 cases have been reported having contagious and lethal bacteria. Seventy from these 452 cases have cancer.4 Regarding the cancer cases alone, in the same time frame, there has been an increase of 10% in cancer cases.
Additionally, for the past four months there has been a 300% increase of birth defects. Infertility rates, spontaneous abortions, hair loss without indication are becoming commonly prevalent. The list of reported illnesses continues, but up till now have not been reported as it should be.
Michael Shappira5, an Israeli physician confirmed that the information concerning the alarming and abnormal increase in the prevalence of leukaemia in Yatta, a village in the area is correct. The physician did not exclude that this phenomenon is related to the Israeli nuclear hazardous chemical waste that is being dumped in that area.
The same physician said that the prevalence of leukaemia in the area means probably that there is dangerous pollution in the water resources. The State of Israel is putting a lot of pressure on its resources to keep these issues secret. for the sake of the security of the state of Israel. This is however not a state issue, but clearly a global issue.
The International Community carries the responsibility to defend the Right to Life and to punish those breaching this law. In reality, however, Israel again walks freely. Do you really think this will not impact your health or the environment? Well, think again.
- From the beginning of Demona's existence dumping is taking place.
- Doctorate thesis title 'Radio-Active Pollution in Southern Hebron from Hebron University.
- The radio-activity ratio, resulting from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the vicinity of 30 km's is similar to the readings in the Il Khalil valley.
- Environmental and Development Supplement issue 7th of September 2004.
- Ha'aretz, 25 April 2005.