Construction on Occupied Land
Companies that withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territory or end their involvement in the occupation are perceived as companies that are not complicit in the occupation. Yet, construction, infrastructure and mining companies create facts on the ground for years to come, entrenching the Israeli occupation.
Generally, when a company withdraws from the occupied Palestinian territory or ends its involvement in the occupation, it is considered to be non-complicit in the Israeli occupation. Yet, when it comes to companies involved in construction and infrastructure projects, the corporate involvement does not end in the mere act of withdrawal. Construction projects continue to function as permanent evidence that maintain the ongoing Israeli control over Palestinian land and resources.
The Separation wall, segregated roads, housing in settlements and other infrastructure are all integral components of the Israeli occupation leaving irreversible facts on the ground and continue to serve the settlement population.
In the occupied Palestinian territory, Israeli housing and infrastructure projects effectively serve two goals: annexing more land and resources to Israel, and barring Palestinian residents from their land and resources. These simultaneous projects enable the settlement population to prosper and expand at the expense of Palestinian communities.
The construction of an Israeli road system in the occupied territory, the use of which is forbidden for Palestinian residents of the West Bank, supports the creation of a separate Jewish-Israeli space on top of the fragmented Palestinian space. The roads and the settlements thus become part of a system of separation, which also includes fences, walls, gates and checkpoints. Quarries and landfills are also part of the Israeli fait accompli on Palestinian land. Yet, not only do they constitute illegal structures on occupied land, and are therefore illegal settlements, but they also exploit Palestinian natural resources causing irreversible damage to the occupied land and suffocating a Palestinian national economy .
The corporations involved in the Israeli abuse of Palestinian natural resources include companies that operate landfills and quarries, such as Hanson Israel, a subsidiary of Heidelberg Cement that own the Nahal Raba Quarry in the West Bank. These corporations also include waste management companies such as Tal-El collection and recycling and transportation companies for natural resources such as Ta'avura. In addition, these corporates include the companies that use these natural resources for profit and for the benefit of the Israeli market, such as the Israeli cosmetic company Ahava.
The Israeli construction industry in the occupied territory includes real estate dealers and realtors, contractors, planners, and suppliers of materials, security and maintenance services to construction sites.
One example for a construction company that had stated it ceased from its operation in the oPt, is Africa Israel, an Israeli company with hundreds of subsidiaries in Israel and worldwide that is owned by the Israeli business man Lev Leviev.
Through its fully owned subsidiary construction firm, Danya Cebus, Africa Israel has built housing projects in multiple settlements, such as the West Bank settlements of Modi'in Illit, Ma'ale Edomim, Adam and Har Homa settlement neighborhood in East Jerusalem.
Additionally, Africa Israel's subsidiary - P.L.H. Lighting Engineering, supplies lighting poles to construction projects in the settlements, to the A-Jib checkpoint and for the construction of the Jerusalem light rail, which connects the city center with the surrounding settlement neighborhoods.
In October 2010, in an official letter to Who Profits, Africa-Israel stated: "Neither the company nor any of its subsidiaries and/or other companies controlled by the company are presently involved in or has any plans for future involvement in development, construction or building of real estate in settlements in the West Bank." The company made similar claims to the Norwegian government in 2013. However, the company soon after received a 78 million NIS contract a project in the settlement neighborhood of Gilo in East Jerusalem, which was completed in 2014.
In a statement to the Israeli Newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth on October 2014, Africa Israel announced that it will stop building in the oPt, including in Jewish settlement neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem. However, there is no mention of this alleged policy change in any of the company's official publications.
Moreover, the housing projects the company built in the oPt continue to serve the settlement population and prevent the development of the Palestinian villages and cities in the area. Therefore, its involvement in the occupation has long lasting consequences and cannot be excused with a passing statement by the company. Yet, in order to maintain the accuracy of the information published on the Who Profits website, a distinction has been created between construction and infrastructure companies that are currently active in the oPt and companies with past activities in the oPt.
As shown, the construction, infrastructure and mining companies are all allegedly temporarily involved in the occupation, since the projects they initiate and execute are delineated in time. Yet, these projects create facts on the ground for years to come, entrenching the Israeli occupation. The construction of settlements and related infrastructure, as well as the abuse of Palestinian natural resources for the benefit of the occupier directly contradicts International Humanitarian Law, specifically the Hague regulations and the Fourth Geneva Convention.