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Israeli West Bank mines 'illegal'

An Israeli-owned mining operation near the West Bank settlement of Mishor Adumim (09/03/2009)
Yesh Din said Israel's mining broke international laws

An Israeli human rights group has filed a petition at the High Court demanding an immediate halt to Israeli mining operations in the West Bank.

The group, Yesh Din, accuses Israel of breaking international law by exploiting the occupied territory's resources for its own gain.

It says Israel has never conducted a thorough review of the practice.

But Israel says the procedures are in line with both international law and agreements with the Palestinians.

Yesh Din cites military documents which show nine million of the 12 million tonnes of rock and gravel mined in the West Bank each year are sold in Israel - and says Israel is "addicted to the exploitation".

It says its High Court petition addresses "the illegal practice of brutal economic exploitation of a conquered territory to serve the exclusive economic needs of the occupying power".

'Pillage'

"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," says the petition.

Long-term Israeli construction plans show the authorities intend to rely on the continued use of materials taken 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, has rejected the accusations.

Military spokesman Miki Galin said all mining operations were carried out in line with "the relevant directives of international law" and agreements with Palestinians.

"The Civil Administration is carrying out staff work to evaluate the up-to-date policy regarding the operation of the quarries," he said.



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