When we wrote about the new Herbawi Home Center in Jenin earlier this year, we wondered if it would bring suburban living to the West Bank. Another change is afoot this month in the town of Ya’abad, west of Jenin, reports the Maan News Agency. With most of the town’s 8,000 residents working in wood-coal, the workshops that heat wood release pollution that gives locals respiratory illness at rates double those of surrounding villages. (Left, a workshop in Ya’abad).
“Not only is the industry non-sustainable, it is contaminating the groundwater and destroying the green forest that gives shelter to the town, and once provided a hideout for Sheikh Izz Addin Al-Qassam, the leader of 1930s revolution, and namesake for Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades.”
One Yaabad resident told Ma’an that the factories’ pollution is “so bad that if you hang up your clothes outside at night, the next morning they will be so grey and rank that you will not be able to wear them.”
At the same time, those Ya’abad residents who work in coal production said it provides a handsome income of 5000 shekels a month ($1350). A 22-year-old coal worker, Yasser Abu-Baker, said ““We benefit from this career, our community benefits, and all of Palestine benefits because we can produce all the wood coal the country needs up here.”
Ya’abad Mayor Walid Al-Abbady said that the only solution is to move the workshops outside of town, which helped Egyptian wood-coal manufacturers to work safely. However, he says, Israeli control of the West Bank is thwarting such a move because it would require construction outside of city limits and in Area C, the part of the West Bank under full Israeli control since Oslo. Now Ya’abad is leaning on the Palestinian Authority to help make the change.
::Photo from Maan News