The Tel Aviv Jerusalem Fast Train, also known as the A1 train, is one of the most extensive infrastructure projects that the Israeli government has undertaken in the last decades. The project was initiated in 2001 and has been under planning and construction ever since, costing over NIS 8.5 billion (USD 2.4 billion). The A1 train route crosses the Green Line into the occupied West Bank in two areas, using occupied Palestinian land, some of it privately owned, for an Israeli transportation project aimed exclusively for Israelis.
The overall plan includes what would be the longest and highest bridges and tunnels. This extensive project could not have materialized without foreign investment and know how of major multinationals.
The following flash report exposes the involvement of the major companies that execute the A1 project, describing their involvement in this controversial project as well as their other occupation-related activities.
The Tel Aviv Jerusalem Fast Train, also known as the A1 train, is one of the most extensive infrastructure projects that the Israeli government has undertaken in the last decades. The project was initiated in 2001 and has been under planning and construction since, costing over NIS 8.5 billion (USD 2.4 billion). The A1 train route crosses the Green Line into the occupied West Bank in two areas, using occupied Palestinian land, some of it privately owned, for an Israeli transportation project aimed exclusively for Israelis.
As of May 2017, the rail route was paved until the Latrun area and the excavation of the tunnels and the construction of the bridges has ended. The works are currently focused on the electrification of the train route and on the train systems themselves. According to announcements by the Israeli Railways and the Israeli Ministry of Transportation, the project will become operational in March 2018.
The first segment of the route, completed in 2004, connected Tel Aviv with the Israeli Ben Gurion Airport. From the airport, the route continues to the Israeli city of Modi’in, when this segment became operational in 2007. The most expensive and complicated segment of the train route is from the Modi’in area to Jerusalem. This segment includes three long tunnels, a bridge of 1.2 km (bridge no. 6) and many shorter bridges in the area. The construction of this segment started in 2005 and is currently ongoing. In December 2016, the Israeli Ministry of Transportation and Israel Railways have approved the extension of the train route to an underground station in the Western Wall area in East Jerusalem.
The third segment of the route was divided into four sections: section A, from Anabe to Mevo Horon – executed by Danya Cebus; section B, from Latrun to Sha’ar Hagai – executed by Minrav and MosMetrostry; section C, from Sha’ar Hagai to the Cedars Valley – executed by Shapir Engineering and Impresa Pizzarotti; and section D, from the Cedars Valley to Jerusalem – executed by Electra-Bogl.
The electrification process is currently being executed by the Spanish company SEMI.
Crossing the Green Line
The first area where the A1 train route crosses the Green Line into the occupied territory is in the Latrun Enclave. This segment was included in the original plan, issued in 1996 and approved in 2001. It is about three km long, starting at the end of the Ayalon Bridge (Bridge 6) and continuing with a tunnel (Tunnel 1). This tunnel, like the others, was excavated using a Tunnels Boring Machine (TBM) of the German company Herrenknecht.
The Latrun enclave was occupied in the 1967 war; the three Palestinian villages in it, Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nuba, were totally destroyed and their residents evicted. To prevent their return, the area has been declared a closed military zone ever since. Additionally, an Israeli settlement (Mevo Horon) separates the enclave from the rest of the West Bank and a large part of the area was declared a national park. Today, this main highway, called Israel’s Road No. 1, goes through the Latrun Enclave. The Separation Wall was built east of the enclave inside the West Bank, leaving the entire Latrun Enclave on the Israeli side of the fence. When the Israeli military planning committee discussed objections filed by the Palestinian land owners in July of 2005, alternative routes to the A1 train route included one option further south, through the Ayalon Valley, within the borders of the State of Israel. The committee decided to dismiss this option because of possible environmental harm to the Ayalon Valley.
The second area in which the route crosses into the occupied West Bank is near the Palestinian villages of Bet Surik and Bet Iksa. The route in this area consists of a tunnel – the end of the long tunnel (Tunnel 3) that comes out into Cedars (Arazim) Valley, a bridge (bridge no. 9) over the valley and a second tunnel (Tunnel 3A). The train route in this area passes just 250-300 meters (850-1000 feet) north of the Green Line border into the occupied area. This infringement was not in the original plans. The original route went through the northernmost outskirts of the nearby Israeli town of Mevaseret Zion, with the tunnels opening to a bridge over Cedars Valley next to the houses of the Israeli neighborhood of Reches Halilim (lit. “Flutes Ridge”), which borders the Green Line.
The Israeli residents of Mevaseret filed objections to this plan, and demanded that the tunnel portals be moved at least 500 meters further north. Three fast trains an hour, going in and out of the mountain, would likely create serious noise pollution, destroy the view of the natural valley and consequently would decrease property value. The new route cuts into the lands of the neighboring Palestinian villages of Bet Iksa and Bet Surik, which lie on opposite sides of Cedars Valley. Additionally, access roads to all tunnel portals and waste removal tunnels, needed during the construction phase, seized more agricultural lands and crossed into village residents’ private lands, in the western entrance to the Jerusalem.
The A1’s exploitation of occupied land to enable Israeli development of a railway system for the sole benefit of the Israeli market and population stands in stark violation of international law.
Article 55 of the Hague Regulations designates the Occupying Power as only the administrator and usufructuary of public immovable properties such as land. Accordingly, Israel’s use of land in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) is limited to mere administration, and it is only allowed to function as a trustee of occupied public property. Hence, Israel is prohibited from exploiting the land in a manner that quashes the economy of the occupied population and benefits its own inhabitants or national economy. In the case of the A1 fast train, not only does the appropriation of land undermine the Palestinian economy’s development and growth, it also further exacerbates forcible displacement and hinders the access of Palestinians to their lands – the fundamental resource of agrarian income.
Moreover, under the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) rules of usufruct, the Occupying Power is prohibited from using any of the land of an occupied territory for any purpose other than a military necessity. As a civilian inter-city train in no way a military necessity, there is no legal justification for this blatant violation of international law.
Rather than being a military necessity, the above-mentioned railway project exclusively benefits the Israeli economy and population.
The overall plan includes what would be the longest and highest bridges and tunnels. This extensive project could not have materialized without foreign investment and know how of major multinationals. The following section focuses on some of the companies that execute the A1 project, describing their involvement in this controversial project, as well as their other occupation-related activities.
Electra is a publicly traded Israeli conglomerate of Israeli and international companies, specializing in the fields of electromechanical systems, real estate development and construction, facility management and large-scale infrastructure.
One of the group’s subsidiaries, Electra Infrastructures Hofrey Hasharon, develops and builds several infrastructure projects in the occupied West Bank. It was contracted by Israeli Railways to build tunnel 3A in section D of the A1 train route, which crosses through occupied Palestinian land.
On February 2015, Electra and Electra Infrastructures Hofrey Hasharon won a tender for the construction and maintenance of the track and electronic systems of the A1 rail route. Both companies won the EUR 160 million tender as part of an international consortium, named the Electra Bögl Group and composed of the German company Max Bögl Stiftung & Co. and Swiss company Signon Schweiz. The construction includes laying 46 kilometers of track, setting up electromechanical systems that support railway operation, management and integration. The project started immediately after the signing of the contract and is due to be completed in December 2017. The maintenance services included in the contract will be provided by the consortium for a period of 10 years.
Other occupation-related activities of the Electra Group:
A fully owned subsidiary of the group, Ben Hasharon, has executed the planning and physical development of the expansion of the Barkan settlement industrial zone for the Samaria Development Co. The early stages of this project also included massive quarrying on the expansion site. The quarrying of Palestinian non-renewable natural resources for Israeli needs is another form of illegal exploitation.
Another fully owned subsidiary of the Electra Group, Katzenstein Adler, operates a 4,780 square meters factory in the Barkan settlement industrial zone in the West Bank.
In addition, Electra Construction has been involved in the construction of housing projects in West Bank settlements. The company built 141 housing units in the settlement neighborhood of Har Homa (Homat Shmuel) in occupied East Jerusalem and 52 housing unit is the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim. Electra Investments had also built a project in the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim in 2009.
Electra Y.B., another fully owned subsidiary of the Electra group, is contracted by the Israeli Prisons Service (the IPS) to execute a biometric project, including maintenace, from 2016 until 2019 for NIS 1.24 million.
The company also owns Ariel Properties, whose malls division, Ariel Promol Malls Management, markets and manages a shopping center in Ramot, a settlement neighborhood in East Jerusalem.
Additional subsidiaries provide services to the Israeli Army, Israeli Police, the Ministry of Defense and other governmental bodies. In 2012, Electra Power won a tender for the construction, operation and maintenance of the new military training campus in the Negev (Naqab) desert – ‘the Bahadim city’. This project, located within the green line, together with other plans, threaten to displace Bedouin communities living in the area. Electra FM supplies overall maintenance services to the Israeli Ministry of Defense headquarters’ in Hakirya military base in Tel Aviv. Girit Control Systems and Communications provided communications and security systems to the Israeli police, the Israeli military and the Prime Minister’s office.
The Electra Group is controlled by Elco Holdings, which holds 53.28% of company shares.
Chairman: Michael Zelkind
CEO: Itamar Deutscher
The Group’s major Israeli subsidiaries include: Electra Investments, Electra Power, PSP Investments, Electra Construction, Electra Infrastructure Hoftey Hasharon, Ben Hasharon, Electra FM, Girit Control Systems & Communications, Elco Contracting and Services, Kedar Air Conditioning, Katzenstein Adler, Y.B. Systems, Ariel Properties Group and A.L.D. Environmental Protection.
Major international subsidiaries include: Electech Holdings (The Netherlands), Electra Easy Europe B. V. (The Netherlands), Electra Westminister (UK), OTS OMNI Trading Services (The Netherlands), Glotir Trading (The Netherlands), Etco (Nigeria), Electra M&E (Bulgaria), Electra M&E Engineering Systems (Romania), Electra M&E BEL (Belarus), Eletco (Angola), Electra HVAC (Russia) and Electra APM (Poland).
Companies in the group are exclusive Israeli representatives of Cooper Power Systems (USA), EATON (UK), Johnson Controls (USA), Delta Controls (Canada), Philips Lighting (The Netherlands), Maschinenfabrik Reinhausen (Germany), Sicame (France), Tesar (Italy), R&M (Switzerland), ALIMAK (Sweden), OTIS (USA) and Kaleporselen (Turkey).
The Group’s revenues are USD 89.5 million.
Head office: 7 Jabotinsky St., Ramat Gan 52520, Israel
A company specializing in electricity systems and industrial construction, part of the publicly traded ACS group, based in Madrid.
The company won a tender of NIS 2 billion to execute the electrification of Israel’s railway network, including the A1 Tel Aviv Jerusalem fast train. The Tel Aviv Jerusalem fast train is the largest infrastructure project built in Israel and the train’s route crosses the green line in two areas into occupied Palestinian territory.
SEMI will convert 420 km of existing and planned railways to electricity and will establish transformers’ stations and control systems. The entire electrification project in the Israeli Railways is due to end in 2021.
The first train route that is converted to electricity is the A1 route. The works on this route began in August 2016, when the first SEMI vehicles arrived at the Ashdod port. In November 2016, the company initiated digging and fencing works in section A of the project (in the area of the Latrun enclave, which is located in no man’s land, and in December 2016 it installed electricity poles in the area. During April 2017, the company was documented conducting electrification works in tunnel no. 1 of the A1 train route.
According to a new professional report that was handed to the Israeli Ministry of Transportation, the A1 train route will become operational by the end of 2018.
SEMI is 100% owned by the publicly traded ACS Group, based in Madrid. The company operates several offices in Spain, including in Barcelona, Malaga, Seville, Granada, Valencia, Guadalajara, Coruna, Tarragona, Murcia, Leon and Zaragoza.
In addition, SEMI operates the following international subsidiaries: SEMI France (Paris), SEMI USA (Maryland), SEMI Maroc (Casablanca), SEDMIVE C.A. (Caracas, Venezuela), SEMI Panama, MEXSEMI S.A. DE C.V. (Mexico), SEMI Republica Dominicana (the Dominican republic), SEMI Chile, SEMI UR (Uruguay), SEMI Peru (Lima), SEMI India (New Delhi), SEMI Italia (Milano).
The company’s revenues are USD 247,451,260.
Head Office: 6 Avenida de Manoteras, 2ª planta, Madrid 28050, Spain
A group of companies specializing in construction and engineering services, managed by the publicly traded Israeli company Minrav Holdings.
The company has built the Latrun railway bridge for the A1 fast train between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The bridge crosses into the Latrun enclave, which is in the occupied West Bank.
Minrav Engineering has recently won the contract to build section B of the same train line together with the Russian Open Joint Stock Company Moscow Metrostroy. This section would include a 3.5 km long double tunnel starting from the same bridge within the Latrun enclave and running almost its entire length under this occupied area.
Other occupation-related activities of the Minrav Group
The company was contracted by Hagihon to build and operate a sewage treatment plant in the northern part of East Jerusalem in Nabi Musa for 25 years. This facility, on occupied land, would mainly serve the settlement neighborhoods of Pisgat Ze’ev, Neve Ya’akov and the French Hill. Water from the facility will also be used for agricultural farms in settlements in the Jordan Valley. This project is planned to be completed by 2011 and the company signed a 25 year contract for operating it.
Leumi bank provided financial accompaniment for this project in Nabi Musa in August 2016.
Minrav also builds housing project in settlements in the West Bank. Minrav is building 90 housing units on a land of 10,955 m² in Hill C in the northwest of Beitar Illit. The project is executed according to a tender of NIS 13.5 million with development expenses of NIS 16.9 million, which was awarded to the company in 18 March 2015. The construction of the project started in 2016 and is due to be completed in 2019. The investment of the company (and of the bank) in the project is expected to reach NIS 100 million. The First International Bank of Israel provides financial accompaniment to this project.
Minrav is building a two-stage project in Agan Ha’ayalot in the northwestern outskirts of the Givat Ze’ev settlement. The project is built in the framework of Local Outline Plan no. 220/10, which refers to the lands of the Palestinian village A-Jib. The company is currently building the first stage of the project, which includes the construction of 120 housing units on a land of 18,528 m². The second stage of the project includes 29 housing units. Igud bank provides financial accompaniment to this project.
Minrav Projects was contracted in 2008 by the Israel Land Administration to build a project of 90 housing units in Talpiot East, a settlement neighborhood of Jerusalem. In addition, it holds land for a planned 100 housing units project in the settlement of Givat Ze’ev.
Minrav Steel has constructed the Archive 2000 industrial building in the industrial zone of Mishor Adumim, an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank. Minrav took part in additional projects: The company executed a project of NIS 2 billion of the Israeli Ministry of Defense to erect ‘the Bahadim City’ project of the Israeli army on a land of 250,000 m² in the Naqab desert, in a partnership with Electra and Binat. The project was established in the framework of a franchise for 25 years. The company established the Be’er Sheva prison, in which Palestinian political prisoners are held. The Minrav Group built Kiryat Hamemshala, a building of government offices in the Kirya in Tel Aviv.
The group is controlled by Bank Hapoalim Nominees, which is owned by Hapoalim bank. Additional shareholders are Avraham Kozanitsky and Ziva Kozanitsky.
Subsidiaries include: Hayovel (with Africa Israel), Yunihead Biopark, Agro-Green, Mey Menashe, Boney Arey Dan, Gan Ha’irus, Central Park Hungary, Minrav Investments Hungary, Minron (Hungary) and Yozma (Hungary).
The company builds commercial and housing projects in the US and Hungary.
The Minrav Group’s revenues is USD 196,730,000
Head office: 3 Habosem St., Ashdod, Israel
Formerly the Moscow Metro company, this company became a general construction company specializing in metro and road construction. In July 2010 the company won a contract with Minrav Engineering for the construction of section B of the A1 fast train.
Most of the length of this section consists of tunnels underneath the Latrun enclave, an area of occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank which was ethnically cleansed of its Palestinian residents after the 1967 war.
The company is an Open Joint Stock Company (OJSC), owned by the Russian Federation.
CEO: Zhukov Sergey
Head Office: 17 Tsvetnoy Blvd., Moscow 103501, Russian Federation
A publicly traded Canadian multinational aerospace and transportation company. The company manufactures regional airliners and mass transportation equipment, and provides financial services.
Through its fully owned Israeli subsidiary, Bombardier Transportation Israel, the company is heavily involved in the Israeli A1 fast train project. In August 2015, the company singed a one billion NIS contract with Israel Railways Corporations, a state-owned company, to provide it with 62 electric engines (locomotives) which will gradually replace existing diesel locomotives and mainly power the 369 Bombardier railway cars already sold to Israeli Railways by the company. The company’s engines will power all the A1 fast trains. In September 2016, the company was declared one of the final bids for a contract to supply Israel Railways with a fleet of 60 additional railway cars (double deck coaches), which will also be use in the A1 fast trains to Jerusalem due to open in April 2018.
In a 2015 interview, the company was asked about its operation within the occupied West Bank and in response the president and operating officer of the company, Dr Bertling, said “This is not a problem. What do we provide? Railway systems to all residents, no matter their nationality. There is no apartheid in Israel. Eventually, everyone stands to gain from a good and effective railway, in any area it passes through. As far as we’re concerned there is a green light to participate in all bids in Israel, even in upcoming bids over the Jerusalem light rail. It’s not in our DNA to deal with political issues.”
The company is a publically traded company (on both the Toronto and Montreal Stock Exchanges). The company is owned by the Bomberdier family.
Chairman and CEO: Laurent Beaudoin
Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors: Pierre Beaudoin
Major subsidiaries include: Bombardier Transportation GmbH, Bombardier Transportation (Holdings) UK, Learjet Inc., Bombardier Aerospace Corporation, Bombardier Transport France S.A.S.
Head Office: Bombardier Inc., 800 René-Lévesque Blvd. West, Montréal, Québec, Canada H3B 1Y8
 Article 55 of the Hague Regulations states that “The occupying State shall be regarded only as administrator and usufructuary of public buildings, real estate, forests, and agricultural estates belonging to the hostile State, and situated in the occupied country. It must protect the capital of these properties, and administer it in accordance with the rules of usufruct.”
 Claudia Nicoletti and Anne-Marie Hearne, Pillage of the Dead Sea: Israel’s Unlawful Exploitation of Natural Resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Al-Haq, July 2012, p. 27.
 Orna Ben-Naftali, “PathoLAWgical Occupation: Normalizing the Exceptional Case of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Other Legal Pathologies,” in: Ben-Naftali (ed.), International Law and International Human Rights Law, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 140.