New West Bank Settlement's Sewage Overflowing Into Palestinian Fields

The people from the illegal outpost of Amona were evacuated to a spot hastily set up without sewage treatment

Raw sewage that flowed from the new West Bank settlement of Amihai into the fields of the Palestinian village Turmus Ayya, last week.

Raw sewage from the new West Bank settlement of Amihai, which had been set up to take in people evacuated from the nearby illegal outpost of Amona, is flowing straight into agricultural fields worked by Palestinians from the village of Turmus Ayya.

The settlers had dug a pit near the fields for the sewage to sink into, but the hole overflows, flooding the fields. Since Amihai, where about 40 families live, was only built after the actual evacuation, the work on the sewage pit was done hastily.

Attorney-general Avichai Mendelblit had opposed Amihai’s expedited construction and also had expressed discomfort with the establishment of a new town based on an army general's order. West Bank planning authorities approved the construction of Amihai at dizzying speed, without seriously discussing objections by local Palestinian residents.

A sewage treatment facility for Amihai, which is planned to serve Shiloh and other settlements, has yet to be built. A visit to the pit built by the settlers shows it’s mere meters from Palestinian fields, and contaminates them. The ground around the pit is soaked with wastewater. Members of Torat Tzedek (Torah of Justice) photographed the sewage leakage.

“When I first smelled that smell, I asked myself how settlers who had experienced the trauma of evacuation could be insensitive to others,” said Rabbi Arik Ascherman, head of Torat Tzedek. “It seems that just as the sanctity of Eretz Yisrael blinded them to the landowners whose property was stolen to build Amona, they don’t even notice the field owners of Turmus Ayya.”

Nidal, who lives in Turmus Ayya, told Haaretz that the sewage has been leaking from the pit on and off for two months. The farmers haven’t suffered real damage yet but once they plant their summer crops, they could.

A source in the planning authorities says the pit is within the area of the Benjamin council’s jurisdiction and is its responsibility. He also said the pit had been approved by the civil administration. The civil administration commented it had been unaware that the pit overflows.

The Benjamin council confirmed that there is a problem and said it’s being addressed.