Israeli watchdog sues to halt ‘irreparable damage’ at illegal Palestinian quarry

The Regavim Movement wants to force the government to take action against “criminals” who “rapaciously exploit the natural resources of the Land of Israel.”

By World Israel News Staff

On Tuesday, the Regavim watchdog group announced it filed a petition in the Jerusalem District Court to shut down an illegal Palestinian quarry in Israel’s eastern Gush Etzion region.

According to Regavim, the quarry stretches across 1,500 dunams (1.5 square kilometers), with hundreds of those dunams sitting on registered Israeli state land.

The illegal qaurry “continues to cause irreversible ecological damage,” Regavim warned in a statement on the case.

More than 10 years ago, Regavim petitioned the High Court of Justice to shut the quarry down, which resulted in a commitment from the government to regulate the site and halt land-use violations.

Notwithstanding the High Court petition, “The illegal quarry in Gush Etzion has continued to grow ever since, scarring hundreds of dunams of state land and causing irreparable environmental [harm],” added Regavim.

Regavim maintains that because around 30 percent of the Beit Fajar quarry sits on Palestinian Authority-controlled land, the State of Israel refuses to force the quarry’s operators to comply with environmental protection regulations in the majority of the quarry.

Regavim’s attorneys, Avi Segal and Yael Cinnamon, maintain that the illegal quarry is causing “massive disruption of the delicate ecosystem,” including “destruction of wildlife habitats and breeding grounds for unique species of flora and fauna that have developed and thrived in this area over thousands of years.”

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Regavim’s most recent petition to the Jerusalem District Court names as parties in interest Minister of Defense Benny Gantz, Minister of the Environment Gila Gamliel, the IDF Commander of Central Command, the Civil Administration and the Israel Police.

“The environmental damage caused to this area by the inaction of the authorities responsible for law enforcement is staggering, and, sadly, irreparable,” said Regavim’s spokesperson.

The spokesperson concluded, “Adding insult to injury, when micro-measures are taken to rehabilitate illegal quarries in these areas, they are paid for by Israeli taxpayers, and the criminals who cause the damage simply carry on, rapaciously exploiting the natural resources of the Land of Israel as they scoff at the law and pocket vast profits, without any responsibility for the destruction they leave in their wake.”