Since the beginning of the settlement enterprise, Israel has not constructed advanced regional wastewater treatment plants in the West Bank settlements as it has done inside Israel. Only 81 of the 121 settlements are connected to wastewater treatment facilities, and even these are outdated, frequently malfunction and shut down, and are not able to treat the necessary amount of sewage. Of the 17.5 million cubic meters of wastewater created annually by the settlements, 5.5 mcm flow as raw sewage into West Bank streams and riverbeds. The Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection has failed to take serious enforcement actions against settlements.
The first victims of the neglect of wastewater treatment are Palestinians, primarily residents of small towns and villages, who depend on water from natural sources - springs and wells - whose pollution causes disease and harms crops. Because settlements are generally at higher altitudes, their untreated wastewater flows down to nearby Palestinian communities.
Photograph: A Palestinian farmer checks his destroyed crop as raw sewage from the illegal Jewish settlement of Elon Moreh flows through his olive grove, close to the Palestinian village of Deir al-Hatab in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, October 26, 2010. The Israeli army regular denies residents access to the grove for ‘security reasons’, despite the land and all surrounding areas belonging to Palestinians. The residents discovered thousands of destroyed olive trees on this rare occasion that they were allowed to enter their own farmland. (Getty Images)