HAIFA, Israel (Reuters) – Israel’s state-run news agency on Tuesday said it had found more than 2,300 chemicals that it said were in chemicals used in the construction of a new water treatment plant in the occupied West Bank.
The Israel Atomic Energy Commission said the discovery of the chemicals included benzene and xylene, which are commonly used in construction products, as well as xylene oxide and xylenes, which can be used in pharmaceuticals.
The agency said in a statement that a preliminary analysis showed that some of the chemical compounds in the samples were used in some industrial products, including in welding, the cement industry and in plastics and plastics manufacturing.
It did not identify which chemicals were in the new plant, which is being built on land seized by Israel in a 2005 military operation.
Israeli media reported that the government had given Israel’s Atomic Energy Authority the authority to conduct the search and the chemical samples were taken from a nearby military base.
The agency had been in charge of the search.
The discovery comes a day after a Reuters investigation showed that Israel was using chemicals found at a West Bank Palestinian industrial site to make fertilizer for the plant.
In a separate development, Israel said it was removing all of the country’s cement from the Gaza Strip amid growing international criticism over its continued use of the cement, which has been used by Palestinians to build settlements and as a raw material for military-grade explosives.
It said the cement is being removed in response to the United Nations’ recommendation to suspend all cement production in Gaza.
(Reporting by Israels Dan Meridor and Nidal Al-Arian in Jerusalem; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Tom Heneghan)