Tulkarem and the factories

In 1985 Israel established Geshori, the first Israeli factory in the West Bank. Situated west of the city of Tulkarem and built on confiscated Palestinian land, Geshori produces paint, agricultural pesticides and recycled plastics. The first Israeli factories in the Tulkarem district were originally on Israeli land but were moved after local residents protested about the devastating environmental and health impact of these plants. By moving these business' into the West Bank, the Palestinians are now the one's suffering from the pollution.

Several factors made the region attractive to Israeli businessmen and developers, who subsequently have built eleven more factories in the region, taking up very large areas of Palestinian agricultural land. First, the Tulkarem district is only 12km from Natanya, a large city in the center of Israel. Israeli investors enjoy tax exemptions by having business' inside the West Bank. After the Oslo Accords, the Tukarem district became part of the 61% of the West Bank that fell under Israeli military control. As a result, Palestinian workers are easily exploited by these factories as a cheap labour force and are not protected by the same safety and labour rights laws as Israeli workers. Israeli employment agencies pay Palestinian workers less than the minimum wage. This exploitation applies to Palestinian Israeli citizens and Palestinians living in the West Bank. However, Jewish Israelis are not permitted to work under such conditions.  

These factories produce and work with dangerous chemicals. Most of them are known carcinogens, including asbestos. But basic health and safety regulations are not enforced. Therefore there is an extremely high incidence of reported injuries to workers, including cancers of various forms, respiratory illnesses and severe inflammatory eye and skin diseases. According to the Palestinian health minister, the incidence of respiratory illnesses in Tulkarem district is twice as high as in Nablus. Take a look at this video to learn more 

The effect of the pollution does not stop with the people above the ground. The soil and underground water in the region has become dangerously contaminated by the industrial waste. The water is unsafe to drink and the crops are spoiled. However, these factories do  get shut down from time to time due to health concerns. This only occurs on the few summer days when the wind changes and blows the toxic fumes towards the Israeli towns directly to the west. Once the wind changes direction again, blowing into the West Bank, the switches are turned right back on.


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