Roads and Infrastructure Nabi Elyas Bypass Road (Highway 55)

Update | Jan 2018

In this update, Who Profits exposes some of the international and Israeli corporations involved in the construction of the Nabi Elyas bypass road (Highway 55) in the occupied West Bank. The bypass road, set to open in early 2018, expropriates Palestinian land for a project aimed to benefit an illegal settler population, in gross violation of international law.

In a cabinet meeting in October 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu presented the paving of bypass roads in the occupied West Bank, including the Nabi Elyas bypass road, as part of his government’s “counter-terrorist” program, alongside measures such as holding bodies of Palestinians hostage, increasing police, military and private security forces in East Jerusalem, and promoting an amendment that would allow Israel to imprison Palestinian minors under the age of 14 for “security” offenses. [1]

This inclusion speaks volumes to the overtly political nature of road infrastructure, specifically bypass roads, under Israel’s prolonged military occupation of the Palestinian territory. Since 1967, Israel has built at least 800 km of bypass roads in the occupied West Bank. [2] Most recently, in October 2017, the Israeli government pledged 800 million NIS (228 million USD) for developing road infrastructure in settlements in the occupied West Bank, including several bypass roads, to go into effect in 2018. [3] Israel’s elaborate road system enables settlers to travel rapidly and smoothly between settlements and to cities within the green line, creating territorial contiguity and further incentivizing settlement expansion. Bypass roads are also used to promote real estate projects in the settlements. For example, a website advertising a housing project in the settlement of Har Bracha notes that the paving of the Nabi Elyas bypass road would make the journey to kfar Saba, a city within the green line, “even shorter.”[4]

At the same time, for Palestinian communities living in close proximity to the same roads, bypass roads serve as engines of economic de-development and territorial fragmentation. As at January 2017, Palestinians are explicitly prohibited from driving on at least 65 kilometers of roads in the occupied West Bank. [5] A system of roadblocks and checkpoints ensures that most bypass roads remain off limits to Palestinians, and the roads themselves are often used to physically block the development of Palestinian towns and as pretext for further expropriation of occupied Palestinian land.

This update focuses on the case of the Nabi Elyas bypass road, demonstrating its role in facilitating settlement expansion, land grab and the de-development of Palestinian infrastructural capabilities, and providing information on private multinational and Israeli corporations involved in its construction.

The Nabi Elyas bypass road, set to open in early 2018, is part of Highway 55, a 25.5 kilometer highway that runs from the city of Kfar Saba inside the Green Line to the Palestinian city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank. In the past, the road passed through the Palestinian village of Azzun and city of Qalqilya, but its present route bypasses Azzun from the north and Qalqilya from the south. The Azzun bypass road, approved by the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA) in 1989 as part of Outline Plan 927/2,[6] involved the expropriation of 789,000 m2 of land belonging to Azzun. [7] Similar plans were made for a road bypassing the Palestinian village of Nabi Elyas, but were not executed at the time. The section that connected Highway 55 to Qalqilya was blocked by the construction of the annexation wall in 2004.

In September 2013, almost 25 years later, plans for the Nabi Elyas bypass road were revived by the ICA. On 21 December 2015, the ICA issued expropriation orders for 104,000 m2 of land belonging to the Palestinian villages of Nabi Elyas, Azzun and ‘Izbet al-Tabib. [8] In March 2016, the local councils of all three villages, together with 35 landowners, petitioned the Israeli High Court of Justice (IHCJ) against the expropriation. They maintained that the road, whose primary objective would be to serve Israeli settlers, not the occupied Palestinian population, was in violation of international law, and that the expropriation of cultivated agricultural land would take away a crucial source of agrarian income for Palestinian residents. The petition also noted that the planned route would block future expansion of Nabi Elyas[9], a village where overcrowding is already acute, with some 1,500 residents living in an area of 74,000 m2. [10] In November 2016, the IHCJ rejected the petition, and construction began in early 2017.

In February 2017, several Israeli and international companies were documented at the construction site of the new road, including Hyundai, Caterpillar, CNH Industrial, Einav Ahetz and Bnei Eli Etkes Surveying and Engineering Instruments. These companies, by partaking in road infrastructure projects on occupied land, are quite literally paving the way for settlement expansion.

Corporate Complicity

Bnei Eli Etkes Surveying and Engineering Instruments

Profile: A private Israeli company specializing in measuring and engineering instruments and GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) measuring solutions. The company is the exclusive representative of the Swiss company LEICA Geosystems.

Bnei Eli Etkes established a private statewide network of GPS base stations for RTK (Real Time Kinematic) measurements, based on LEICA Geosystems technology. The network, SPIDERNET, is the largest of its kind in Israel. It has 52 active stations, including in settlements in the occupied West Bank (Tomer, Karnei Shomron) and the occupied Syrian Golan Heights (Avnei Eitan) and in Palestinian West Bank towns and cities (Ramallah, Jenin, Jericho, Burin, Sinjil, Dura) and in the Syrian Druze town Buq’ata in the occupied Golan.

On 6 February 2017, Bnei Eli Etkes equipment was documented at the construction site of the Nabi Elyas bypass road near the Palestinian village of Nabi Elyas in the occupied West Bank.

The company also has a joint project with Noble Energy, a US oil and gas exploration and production corporation, for monitoring production platforms. Noble Energy operates several oil production platforms in the Eastern Mediterranean, including the Tamar and Mari-B fields. According to a 2017 report by SOMO – Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations, Noble Energy’s operations are directly linked to severe human rights impact, including naval attacks on Palestinian fishermen (incl. with live bullets) unlawful arrest and arbitrary detention, and the denial of right to livelihood, through the company’s relationship to the Israeli navy, which enforces an illegal naval blockade around Noble Energy’s platforms.

Ownership: Owned by the Etkes family. Shareholders include: Tal Hadas, Fatma Yosef and Yisrael Hadas.

Director: Tal Hadas

Partners: Noble Energy

Revenues: 5.58 million USD in 2016.

Head Office: 1 HaSdera St. P.O. Box 302, Zofit, 44925, Israel

Phone: +972-9-7415043

Website: www.etkes.com

 

CNH Industrial

Profile: A multinational manufacturer of agricultural and construction equipment, trucks, commercial vehicles and buses.

Engineering machinery manufactured by the company was used for the construction of West Bank settlements and their infrastructure, settlement industrial zones and the Separation Wall. The company’s tools were also documented during house demolitions in the area of the South Hebron Hills in the West Bank.

CNH EX355 excavators were used during the construction of the Israeli outpost Leshem. The same model was documented during the construction of the Annexation Wall on the lands of the Palestinian villages of Bidu, Bil’in and Ni’lin and uprooting an apricot and date orchard belonging to the Palestinian village of Artas, in order to expand the infrastructure of the Efrat settlement.

Case wheel loaders were documented building an expansion of the Barkan Industrial Zone and the new Tel Aviv-Jerusalem high speed railway, which crosses the Green Line twice into the OPT. Case wheel loaders were also used during house demolitions in the Palestinian villages of Khirbet M’fakara, Susya and Bir al-‘Id in the South Hebron Hills.

In February 2017, Case heavy machinery was documented at the construction site of the Nabi Elyas bypass road near the Palestinian village of Nabi Elyas in the occupied West Bank.

Traded: Publicly traded in the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the Borsa Italiana (BIT) under the ticker symbol CNHI.

Ownership: CNH Industrial N.V. was incorporated in November 2012, following a merger between Fiat Industrial S.p.A. and CNH Global N.V.

Major shareholders: EXOP (44%); Harris Associates (10.14%); Fiat (4%); and BlackRock (2.9%).

Subsidiaries and Partners: In the field of construction equipment, CNH Industrial owns two major brands: New Holland Construction and Case Construction. Additional brand names under CNH Industrial include Steyr, Case IH, Magirus, FPT and Iveco.

Since the year 2000, N. Feldman and Son was the exclusive Israeli importer of CNH and Case products in the fields of construction and agriculture. Following changes in CNH distribution channels, the New Holland and Case agricultural machinery remained in the hands of N. Feldman and Son, while the distribution of construction equipment was transferred to Carasso Motors, a major Israeli importer of vehicles.

Revenues: 25.3 billion USD in 2016.

Head Office: 25 St. James’s St., London, SW1A 1HA, United Kingdom

Phone: +44-2077660346

Website: www.cnhindustrial.com

Global Presence: The Company operates 62 production sites and 48 research and development centers worldwide.

 

Hyundai Heavy Industries

Profile: The world’s largest shipbuilder and among the top five manufacturers in other heavy industries. The company’s construction equipment division manufactures excavators, wheel loaders, skid steer loaders and forklift trucks, which are distributed in Israel through Efco Equipment -a large Israeli importer of construction machinery.

Hyundai’s track excavators were used in many house demolitions in the Palestinian neighborhoods of Beit Hanina, Silwan, Tsur Baher, Issawiya and At-Tur in East Jerusalem. The company’s tools also preformed demolitions in Beit Jala and in the villages of Jawaya and Derath in the South Hebron Hills.

Hyundai excavators were documented during construction works in the settlement of Halamish and in the Barkan Industrial Zone. They were also used in June 2016 in construction work by the Sarfati Simon construction company in the Pisgat Zeev settlement neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem.

On September 7th of 2016, the company was documented demolishing the house of Mr. Bassam Jamil Ibrahim in the village of Majdal Shams in the occupied Syrian Golan, reducing it to concrete rubble. On November 8th 2016, the company was documented again demolishing another Palestinian house in Issawiyya, a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem. For the full update on both demolitions please click here.

On 2 January 2017, Hyundai heavy machinery was documented during settlement construction work in the Salfit area of the occupied West Bank (near Ariel settlement). On 4 February 2017, the company was documented paving a new settler-only road in the West Bank, the Nabi Elyas bypass road. Approximately 700 olive trees belonging to Palestinians in the area are slated to be uprooted for the construction of the road.

The models used for all of these tasks are: 320LC-7, 320LC-9, 290LC-9 and 450LC-3.

Traded: Publicly traded in the Korea Exchange (KRX).

Ownership: 

Major shareholders: M.J. Chung (10.2%); Hyundayi Mipo Dockyard Co. (7.98%); KCC Corporation (7.01%); Hyundai Motor Company (2.88%); Asan Foundation (2.53%); and Posco (1.94%).

CEO and President: Lee Jai-Seong

Subsidiaries:

Major subsidiaries: Hyundai Mipo Dockyard (42.3%), Sejin Heavy Industries Co. Ltd (13.1%), Hyundai Merchant Marine (2.63%), Hyundai Corporation (2.99%), POSCO (1.51%).

Other subsidiaries: Hyundai Mipo Dockyard Co., Hyundai Venture Investment, Hyundai Corporation, Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries, Hyundai Futures , Hyundai Oilbank, Hyundai Finance Corporation, Hyundai Oil Terminal, Mipo Engineering, Wartsila Hyundai Engine, Hyundai Cummins Engine, Komas Corporation, Hyundai Shell Base Oil, Hi Investment & Securities, Hi Asset Management, Ulsan Hyundai Football Club and Hotel Hyundai Co.

Revenues: Consolidated sales of 42.5 billion USD in 2016

Head Office: 1, Jeonha-dong, Dong-gu Ulsan 682-792 South Korea

Phone: +82-522022114

Website: www.english.hhi.co.kr

Global Presence: The company has 50 overseas offices and production sites.

 

Einav Ahetz

Profile: A private Israeli development and roads construction company. The company executes and has completed multiple infrastructure projects in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The company is executing a project for Israel Railways estimated at 80,000 NIS that would connect the Modiin train station to the Tel Aviv Jerusalem A1 Fast Train. The A1 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 project is due to be completed December 2019.

Einav Ahets is carrying out three projects for Netivei Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory. It is building roundabouts in the Etzion Bloc in the occupied West Bank, a project estimated at 10,000 NIS and carried out in accordance with tender 3/14. It is also providing maintenance for roads in accordance with tender 32/16, which includes the occupied West Bank. Finally, the company is carrying out water infrastructure works for the Israeli national water company Mekorot on Highway 55 – the Nabi Elyas bypass road in accordance with tender 4/14. The project is estimated at 40,000 NIS and is scheduled to be completed in November 2017. Hapoalim Bank accompanies the project.

In 2013, the company executed an infrastructure project in the Ariel settlement. In 2011, the company carried out road surfacing works for Netivei Israel in the occupied West Bank. That same year it also carried out road work on Route 98 in the occupied Syrian Golan.

In 2012, the company won a Ministry of Defense tender for carrying out excavation and infrastructure works for the construction of the Holot detention center near the border with Egypt, where African asylum-seekers are detained in violation of the 1951 Refugee Convention, to which Israel is a signatory.

Ownership: Owned by Muhammad Masrawa and Menachem Friedman.

Shareholders include: Natan Shalom, Einav Ahets (1965) Ltd., Minimax Infrastructures Ltd. and Sharif Masrawa Infrastructures Ltd.

Subsidiaries and Partners: Muhammad Masrawa owns G.M. Stone Works Ltd. Menachem Friendman owns M.T.N. Measurements Compatibility & Management Ltd.

Clients include Israel Railways, Israeli Ministry of Defense and Netivei Israel – National Transport Infrastructure Company.

Revenues: 98.2 million USD in 2016

Head Office: P.O. Box 2092, 25 HaTa’as St. Kfar Saba, Israel

Phone: +972-9-7664249

Website: www.einavahets.co.il

 

Bomag

Profile: A private manufacturer of compaction equipment based in Germany. Part of the FAYAT Group.

Machinery of the company was used in the paving of roads leading to settlements in the West Bank, including apartheid roads which are only for Israelis, and roads at West Bank checkpoints.

On 4 February 2017, Bomag heavy machinery was documented at the construction site of the Nabi Elyas bypass road near the Palestinian village of Nabi Elyas in the occupied West Bank.

In March 2010, Who Profits research team has documented a roller manufactured by the company, at the construction site of the new Tel Aviv-Jerusalem fast train line (A1), near the settlement of Mevo Horon. The new train route crosses into the occupied Palestinian territory in two areas (For further information, see Who Profits full report on the A1 train).

In 2008 and 2009 Bomag rollers were documented in Jaba (Lil) and Huwara checkpoints.

Ownership: Bomag is part of the Road Equipment Division of the Fayat Group (France). The FAYAT Group is owned by the Fayat family. The FAYAT Group owns 152 companies, has a presence in 120 countries, and its annual revenues stand at 3.5 billion euros.

President: Ralf Junker

Subsidiaries and Partners: Bomag has 12 foreign subsidiaries: BOMAG Maschinenhandelsgesellschaft mbH. (Austria), BOMAG MARINI EQUIPAMENTOS LTDA. (Brazil), BOMAG (CANADA) INC. (Canada), China BOMA Equipment & Machineries Supplies Ltd. (China), BOMAG (China) Construction Machinery Co., Ltd. (China), BOMAG France S.A.S. (France), BOMAG (GREAT BRITAIN, 0), LTD. (UK), BOMAG Italia Srl. (Italy), FAYAT BOMAG Polska (Poland), FAYAT BOMAG Rus (Russia), BOMAG GmbH, Singapore (Singapore) and BOMAG Americas, Inc. (USA).

Trade names: Asphalt Manager, Bomag Compaction Management, Economizer, Variocontrol.

Israeli exclusive representative: Efco Equipment

Revenues: Approximately 788.8 million USD in 2016

Head Office: Hellerwald D-56154, Boppard, Germany

Phone: +49-67421000

Website: www.bomag.com

Global Presence: The company has a presence in about 120 countries.

 

Caterpillar

Profile: A U.S. based multinational manufacturer and provider of civil and military engineering machinery. Caterpillar is the world’s largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment.

The company’s machines were used for the demolition of Palestinian houses in the occupied Palestinian territory, the construction of settlements, the Separation Wall and settlement infrastructure on Palestinian land, for creating roadblocks, dispersing demonstrations and as weapons.

Caterpillar is a long-standing supplier of the Israeli army and provides it with a variety of heavy engineering machinery, including different wheel loaders, armored excavators, mini loaders and several models from the D9 armored bulldozer series (D9R, D9N and D9L). D9s were used for operational tasks such as large-scale house demolitions in Gaza, land-clearing missions in Palestinian towns and arresting or killing Palestinian suspects using the pressure cooker procedure.

The most famous heavy engineering machine used by the Israeli army is the Caterpillar D9 armored bulldozer. This track-type tractor, weighing more than 60 tons, is sold by Caterpillar directly to the Israeli army through the United States Foreign Military Sales program, separately from its regular supply chain to the general Israeli market.

The company’s sole representative in the country, Israel Tractors and Equipment (I.T.E, part of Zoko Enterprises), and Ramta, a division of the government-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), are responsible for retrofitting the tools. Zoko Enterprises and the Ramta Division equip the D9s with a ballistic armor suit. The standard configuration includes weapon mounts, storage compartments, a spotlight and projector lamps and communication equipment.

The collaboration between Zoko Enterprises and the Ramta Division also produced an unmanned, remote-controlled version of the armored D9T, nicknamed Pooh HaDov (Winnie-the-Pooh). The development of this vehicle took place in Ramta’s factory in Beersheba and was sponsored and supervised by the Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure (Mafat), a joint administrative body of the Ministry of Defense and the army.

Today, the Engineering Corps holds and operates hundreds of Caterpillar D9 bulldozers in three models: D9R, D9N and D9L, including the unmanned Thunder of Dawn. Their importance to Israeli military tactics is rising steadily.

Caterpillar also supplies a variety of heavy engineering machinery to the Israeli army: various wheel loaders; 225, 245 and 330 armored excavators; and the Front Runner – a remote controlled mini loader built on the chassis of a Caterpillar MTL 257B (also known as the MiniCat). The Front Runner is another product of the fruitful collaboration between Zoko Enterprises and the Ramta Division.

According to the Israeli Engineering Corps, the armored Caterpillar excavators took part in house demolitions, in the destruction of the Mukataa in Ramallah in 2002 and in the Israeli army’s 2006 raid on the Palestinian prison in Jericho. The Front Runner, which was developed for urban warfare, can also operate in the narrow alleys of Palestinian refugee camps. Zoko Enterprises also provides the maintenance, spare parts and storage services for the machinery.

Caterpillar’s engineering machinery was also used by civilian companies for the construction of a large number of settlements in the OPT, including Revava, Maskiot, Oranit, Carmel, Elkana and Beitar Illit in the West Bank and the Har Homa settlement neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

Caterpillar machinery was also used in various projects serving the settlements, such as the Ariel West and Barkan industrial zones, the Tel-Aviv-Jerusalem high speed railway and the headquarters of the Judea and Samaria District of the Israeli Police, located in the E1 area.

The construction of the Separation Wall and checkpoints was also executed using Caterpillar heavy machinery. The company’s loaders and excavators were documented during works on the land of the Palestinian villages of Mas’ha, Al-Walaja, Qalandiya, Jayous, Ras al-Tira, Khirbet Jbara and Wadi a-Rasha and during the construction of the Anabta and Qalandiya checkpoints.

Wheel loaders manufactured by the company were used by the Israeli army for creating roadblocks or for demolishing access roads leading to Palestinian villages in the area of Qarawat Bani Hassan, Aqabah and various locations around the South Hebron Hills.

In addition, Caterpillar track excavators and wheel loaders were used for the demolition of Palestinian houses. The company’s tools participated in demolitions in the Palestinian neighborhoods of Sheikh Jarrah, Beit Hanina and Tsur Baher in East Jerusalem and in the South Hebron Hills area. As of the past several years, Caterpillar military wheel loaders are also used as a crowd control weapon in Kafr Qaddum, during the weekly demonstrations in the village. On 4 February 2017, the company was documented paving a new settler-only road in the West Bank, the Nabi Elyas bypass road.

In August 2016, Who Profits sent an information request to the Israeli Ministry of Defense (IMOD) querying whether the IMOD or the Israeli Army had any direct contracts with Caterpillar or indirectly with Zoko enterprises, its local distributor, for the import of Caterpillar’s heavy machinery. On the 15th of August, Who Profits received the response of the IMOD, which was negative to both requests, stating that no contracts were signed with Caterpillar and/or Zoko enterprises. In October 2017, the IMOD confirmed that this was still the case.

Traded: Publicly traded in the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker symbol CAT.

Ownership: Major shareholders: State Street Corporation (8.90%); Vanguard Group, Inc. (6.59%); BlackRock Inc. (5.84), Capital World Investors (3.59%); State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (3.57%); and FMR LLC (Fidelity Investments) (2.98%).

CEO and Chairperson: D. James Umpleby III

Partners: Exclusive representative in Israel: Zoko Enterprises

Additional brand names include: Anchor Coupling, AsiaTrak, FG Wilson, Halco Rock Tools, Hindustan, MaK, MWM, Olympian, Perkins, Progress Rail (including Electro-Motive Diesel, or EMD), SEM, Solar Turbines, Turbomach, Turner Powertrain Systems, Unit Rig and Caterpillar (Zhengzhou) (formerly Zhengzhou Siwei).

Revenues: 38.54 billion USD in 2016

Head Office: 100 North East Adams St. Peoria, Illinois, 61629, USA

Phone: + 1-3096751000

Website: www.caterpillar.com

Global Presence: Caterpillar distributes its products through an international network of representatives, 130 of which are located outside the United States, serving 182 countries.

 


[4] www.tzurim2.co.il

[5]Lists of checkpoints and forbidden Roads” btselem.org, 8 February 2017.

[6] Israeli Defense Forces [sic], the Civil Administration for the Judea and Samaria Region, the Supreme Planning Council, the Sub-Committee for Roads and Railroads, “Detailed Outline Plan No. 927/2, Road No. 531, Section: Qalqilya – Azzun” (Hebrew). On file with Who Profits.

[10] The Supreme Planning Council, the Sub-Committee for Planning and Licensing, “Meeting Protocol No. 2017006” (Hebrew), 2 April 2017. On file with Who Profits.




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