An op-ed at the Independent (“‘We came here to redeem a land and we end up contaminating it’: Israel’s pollution problem in Palestine”) purporting to demonstrate the environmental destruction Israel has wrought on the territories included several misleading and false claims.
But, by far, the the most egregious lie is in this paragraph:
Numerous studies have shown the Israeli nuclear and chemical industries release radioactive materials and hazardous chemicals into the West Bank and Gaza. In the area around Hebron, soil, rocks, plants and water have all been found contaminated with extremely high concentrations of radiation, in some cases the highest levels found globally. The presence of radioactive material at such high levels, has been linked to leaks from Israel’s nuclear reactor, and military activities, but burying of nuclear waste is also suspected. High levels of radiation in spring water help to confirm this. Anecdotal reports support conclusions that this is occurring in some 50 landfill sites across the West Bank and Gaza. Disabilities, deformities and cancers, especially in children are also increasing in the suspected areas.
So, to summarize, Indy editors signed off on an op-ed charging, without evidence, that Israel dumps nuclear waste from its Dimona plant both in the West Bank and (somehow) in Gaza, which the author ties to allegedly increased disabilities, deformities and cancers in Palestinian children.
As Shany Mor tweeted, “I guess they figured well poisoning didn’t sound modern enough”.
The first indication that this allegation is nothing but unhinged propaganda – in addition to the fact that the author doesn’t cite a source – is that even the most stridently anti-Israel NGOs haven’t leveled such an allegation. In fact, B’Tselem, which recently promoted that lie that Israel is an apartheid and “Jewish supremacist” state, doesn’t say a word on their Environmental Damage page about the alleged dumping of nuclear waste in the occupied territories. The same is true of Adalah and Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.
Not surprisingly, the only sites we found which have advanced some variation of this narrative are propagandistic sites like Electronic Intifada, pro-Hamas sites like Pal-Info and MEMO, some Qatari-based Arabic sites and Saudi-owned Indy Arabia.
This is truly among the most egregious lies we’ve ever come across whilst monitouring the British media over the last 12 years, and we’ve asked editors – under the terms of the accuracy clause of the Editors’ Code – to retract the relevant passages.