Dramatic increases in cancer cases, sterility and abnormal births in south of the West Bank is said to be linked to a uranium leak at the Dimona nuclear power plant.
In villages located in the south of the West Bank, cancer cases, sterility and mental disorders have surged, particularly in the Avaria village, which has a population of over 35,000 people. International scientists have investigated the anomaly to find out the reason is behind it.
“During the past 20 years, there has been a sharp increase in Thyroid disorders, sterility, abnormal births and cancer cases,” Mahmoud Sa’adeh, of the 10,000 strong International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, said in an interview with Press TV.
"One case was an 11-year-old boy who developed heart cancer. This disease happens to one out of one hundred million people so is extremely rare. The boy died recently,” he said.
The group, with the help of Al-Khalil (Hebron) University, has studied the possible impacts of Israel’s Dimona reactor, located in the Negev desert some 30km away from Avaria village.
Governor of al-Khalil, Kamel Hemed said, “Last year we killed over 2,000 dogs in our region. They were not behaving normally and were very aggressive and huge in size.”
“We do not own the needed technologies to investigate the matter and we are also banned from traveling to the border areas. We have asked international organizations to intervene”, he added.
Uranium in the area has been tested at ten times the permitted concentration by Al-Khalil University. The elements of thorium and cesium follow the same pattern of results. Cesium only emerges from nuclear explosions or nuclear activities and is 12 to 30 times the permitted concentration in five local villages of Palestine.
“The nuclear waste from Dimona power plant is buried under Palestinian state land and in some cases under Israeli settlements. In a nearby settlement, there are at least 20 cancer cases. They are too afraid to speak out. Every person over there gets around USD 20,000 dollars a month from the Israeli government in order to stay silent,” Sa’adeh said.
“Israel pays USD11 per barrel to bury waste in this way. It would cost them over USD 5,000 per barrel if it was lawfully disposed of in other countries like Mauritania or Somalia,” he added.
It has also been observed that the surrounding area currently has an unbalanced ecological system where reptiles and plants are almost gone, replaced by an increase in cockroaches, scorpions and other insects known to be able to resist radiation.
The Israeli government is believed to be fully aware of the situation as in 2004 it started to deliver radiation tablets to Bedouins of the desert.
It was out of the Dimona plant in 1986 that whistleblower and nuclear scientist Mordechai Vanunu came to tell the world that Israel had secret nuclear weapons programs.
The international community has for decades turned a blind eye to the issue, but scientists are now concerned that the Israeli program risks creating a second Chernobyl catastrophe. Israel refuses to allow IAEA inspectors to enter the facility.
The nuclear reactor has become very old after 48 years, with experts warning of leakage into some Israeli and Palestinian territories, reaching Jordan, Syria, Egypt and going as far as Libya.