OPT: Rights groups accuse HeidelbergCement of IHL violations; HeidelbergCement response scrutinized
Rights groups have raised serious allegations against HeidelbergCement’s operations at the Nahal Raba quarry in Area C of the occupied West Bank. According to the allegations, HeidelbergCement’s extraction activities may be linked to war crimes, including: pillaging Palestinian resources and facilitating the transfer of Israeli civilians to illegal settlements.
HeidelbergCement’s subsidiary Hanson Israel has also reportedly paid $467,000 in taxes to the Samaria Regional Council, a municipal body for Israeli settlements. Reports further claim another $3.5 million was paid in royalties to the Israeli Civil Administration, a military body responsible for overseeing the occupation of Palestinian land.
In a statement to the Electronic Intifada, a company spokesperson for HeidelbergCement responded saying: “[T]he quarrying activity at Nahal Raba is compatible with international humanitarian law as it produces substantial advantages for the local Palestinian population…Royalties and leasing fees are used by Israel for local projects, for example infrastructure projects, in Area C.”
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited HeidelbergCement to provide further comment. HeidelbergCement’s response is available below. The Resource Centre subsequently invited The Electronic Intifada and Al-Haq to provide rejoinders to HeidelbergCement's statement. Both have provided rejoinders available below. The rejoinders claim that HeidelbergCement’s statement demonstrates “a lack of understanding of the legal situation”. HeidelbergCement has allegedly overlooked Israel’s Military Order 418 of 1971 which purports to amend the Jordanian planning law No. 79 of 1966. The military order reportedly removed Palestinian participation from the planning process and transferred all power to Israel through a higher planning council appointed by the Israeli military commander. Al-Haq further claims that “by continuing to operate under unlawfully held Israeli licenses in occupied Palestinian territory, HeidelbergCement is contributing to the protraction of the conflict…In doing so HeidelbergCement risks complicity in a number of grave international humanitarian law violations, which may amount to war crimes”.
The Resource Centre invited HeidelbergCement to respond to the rejoinders. HeidelbergCement declined to provide further comments.