RAMALLAH, July 9 (JMCC) - Israel is tapping a gas field near the West Bank it occupies, raising Palestinian objections over the theft of shared resources, reports the
Observers said they had seen an oil flare spewing intermittently for approximately a year near the Palestinian village of Rantis, which sits just along the line separating Israel from the West Bank.
After a 10-minute uphill hike through the rocky fields of the West Bank village of Rantis, we reach a summit where we rest, panting in the 40-degree heat.
A hundred metres (330ft) in front of us lie the wired fence and gravel track of the Green Line - the perimeter of the West Bank and Israel.
To our left lies Ben Gurion airport; beyond that, Tel Aviv and the Mediterranean. But it is for a different view that we have come here.
"It hasn't been on for the last few days," says Bilal, a Rantis local and student at Bir Zeit University.
"And you can't see too much in the daytime anyway. But at night - boof!" He gestures as though throwing a fistful of confetti into the air.
He is referring to the large black pipe inserted vertically into the earth, not more than 500 metres away, out of which a steady, blazing flame has been periodically sighted for about a year now.
It is in fact a gas flare, part of the Meged-5 oil well, owned and operated by Givot Olam Oil Ltd, currently the sole player in Israel's tiny onshore oil and gas production sector.
"I happened to be driving past when all of a sudden I saw this huge flare on the Green Line," recalls Hafez Barghouti, editor of the Palestinian al-Hayat al-Jadeedah, who first broke the story in Ramallah.
"I was sure it must be gas. So I called the mayor of Rantis and he said, 'Yes, the Israelis are drilling oil and gas.'"