UPDATE - Israel denies dumping toxic waste in Golan
JERUSALEM - Israel on Wednesday denied student allegations in Syria that it dumped toxic waste in the occupied Golan Heights.
Syrian Golan students said during a protest in Damascus they had sent a message to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan accusing Israel of dumping toxic waste inside towns on the Heights and distributing poisonous paint to Syrian citizens in the area.
Medhat Saleh, who said he represented Golan citizens, said barrels of paint, which included poisonous substances that could cause cancer and gene deficiencies, had been discovered near five Syrian villages there.
Asked about the allegations, the Israeli Environment Ministry said in a statement: "Israel does not transfer any type of waste to the Golan Heights."
But it said that about a month ago, a Golan resident, in a private business deal, stored "a certain quantity of paint, whose sell-by date had expired, in a warehouse in the Druze Arab village of Majdal Shams".
The statement said that immediately after learning of the deal, the Environment Ministry took action to remove the paint and began legal moves against those involved.
The students, studying at Syrian universities, staged a sit-in in Damascus in front of the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations.
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war. Peace talks with Syria faltered a year ago over the future of the strategic plateau, which Damascus wants to reclaim in its entirety.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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