One horrified local photographer Amberto described the reddened Nahal Alexander waterway as looking “like the Bible’s plague of blood in Egypt”.
The Alexander River runs the width of Israel, from the hills of the Nablus on the West Bank to the sea. The river is loved for its wildlife and beauty but in recent weeks, it has been polluted with blood-filled water.
For weeks now, several Israeli media have been publishing photos of the red, blood-filled water.
Blood, feathers and other animal body parts are pouring out of slaughterhouses “from one or more Palestinian slaughterhouses in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem”, reports the Times of Israel.
Although the blood and animal waste would normally be cleaned by a purification plant, heavy rainfall has swamped the system, and it wasn’t cleared before washing into Nahal Alexander.
The deluges coincide with last month’s heavy demand for chicken to supply to Israelis marking Passover, as well as Muslims before the month-long Ramadan festival.
The coordinator of activities in the Occupied Territories said officials from both the “Palestinian side and on Israeli side are carrying out works to clean the Alexander River [of animal parts] illegally dumped by Tulkarm area factories.
“The Civil Administration has been working for months to prevent the waste from entering the river.”
The unbecoming sight has led to complaints to officials. Last month, the Society for the Protection of Nature warned that “Israel’s lax laws have enabled the Alexander River – one of Israel’s most ecologically important – to turn into blood.
“Polluted runoff from slaughterhouses and other industries have polluted this river and turned it red in the middle of Passover. And it’s not the first time!”
The blood pollution is happening at a time when the world is currently battling the novel coronavirus pandemic and the campaign group has urged leaders to “realise how vital nature is to our mental wellbeing and act to make sure ecological plagues like this don’t happen again.”
Calls have also been made to the Environmental Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin to deal with the issue.
Water from the river, which flows from mountain aquifers, is used for “the entire population of the region, both Israeli and Palestinian”, reports Globes news.
Tourist Israel says that “until ten years ago, the river was heavily polluted” before a major joint effort by the regional council and their Palestinian counterparts to transform it.