By Rachelle Kliger, The Media Line, July 21, 2009
Radiation from Israel’s nuclear facility in Dimona is being buried in Palestinian territory and causing an increase in cancer cases among West Bank Palestinians, a Palestinian doctor and anti-nuclear activist says.
“The waste from Dimona is buried west of Dahriyya and the radiation from this buried waste reaches the people and causes cancer,” said Dr. Mahmoud Sa’ada, a Palestinian general practitioner and head of the Middle East division at International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, referring to a small West Bank Palestinian village just north of Hebron and just over 12 miles from the Dimona nuclear reactor.
“What’s new over the past two months is that the radiation has reached Tul Karem,” he told The Media Line, referring to a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank over 100 miles from the Dimona site.
Allegations that Israel’s nuclear facility is causing health hazards are not new, but researchers say the scope of the damage is expanding and putting an increasing number of both Israelis and Palestinians in danger.
Sa’ada, a Dahariyya resident, claimed that in May the Jordanian government sent back a truck of marjoram, a popular Middle Eastern herb, to its point of departure in the West Bank, complaining that the herbs were polluted with radiation.
“When it was studied, it turned out that the soil and the marjoram in Tul Karem was indeed polluted,” Sa’ada said.
He added that there was still no confirmation as to whether this radiation came from the facility in Dimona. The matter is still being investigated by Palestinian researchers.
“This isn’t just affecting Arabs, it’s also affecting Israelis,” he said. “There are 2,000 [Israeli] settlers in the area near Dahriyya and they are also suffering from cancer.”
“They’re not trying to target the Palestinians specifically,” he said. “The facility was originally built as a defensive measure and it’s supposed to defend the State of Israel, but it can only be self destructive.”
Sa’ada claims that international studies carried out in the area have noted that since 1986 the West Bank has seen an increase of disease, including a recurrence of miscarriages, fertility problems, congenital deformations and a number of different types cancer.
In the area south of Hebron, he said, many species of flora and fauna in the area have vanished, but scorpions and beetles, which survived the nuclear bomb in Hiroshima – have remained.
“This has been going on for more than 10 years,” he said, explaining that the Dimona nuclear facility was built in the 1960s and has not undergone an overhaul as required after 1993.
Israel admits to having a nuclear facility in Dimona, a city in the south of Israel, but will not confirm or deny allegations that the facility is being used to build nuclear weapons.
Israel maintains a policy of ambiguity regarding its alleged nuclear program whereas it will not confirm or deny the existence of nuclear weapons in its arsenal.
Non-Israeli sources have claimed Israel has more than 200 nuclear warheads in its possession.
The facility in Dimona and much of its surroundings are encompassed by a long fence. Security personnel regularly patrolling the area do not allow visitors in the region to take photographs.