Written by Jude Taha
When talking about the environmental crisis, it is important to acknowledge the disproportionate impact it holds. Wealthy communities, countries, and individuals frequently feel as though they are safe from the flames and swords of climate change. Today, as we celebrate and participate in Earth Day festivities, we need to discuss the raging impact of the illegal occupation of Palestinian land by Israeli settlers and the devastation that it has caused politically and environmentally. Palestinian land has been devastated and uprooted for the last 60 years, ranging from razing farmlands to contaminating water, done by the Israeli forces.
Gaza, which has been a human rights crisis for many years, has still yet to be acknowledged or assisted. The impacts of the illegal occupation have dried water supplies, torn down trees, and devastated the soil where many Palestinians live sacrificing people’s livelihoods, water supply, and lives. While still largely unreported, in 2009 a reporter named Kelly Kimberly released statistics on the climate catastrophe orchestrated by the Israeli government which read as follows: during the operation Cast Lead by the Israeli Defense Force, which was an aggressive attack on Gaza resulting in 1,400 Palestinians dead, was also reported to raze over 40.000 fig, strawberry, palm, olive, and banana trees to the ground.
Till this day, Palestine has yet to recover from the impact of this operation, because the bombs never stopped. Thousands of acres of fertile land used by Palestinians is now turned into a buffer zone for Israel. The soil is intoxicated and tainted with remains of toxic metals and chemicals from the continuous strikes. Beyond the devastations of erasing the land and agriculture, Israel has contaminated and purposefully damaged the water supply in Gaza for over a decade. Israel has thrown sewage waster and polluted Palestinian resources to where NWRC research has shows traces of mercury, cobalt, and other dangerous metal traces in the hair of Palestinians.
The issue of climate change and environmental justice cannot be fought or discussed without the mention of the struggle of the Palestinian people and land under Israeli occupation. These lands, people, and water supplies have been exploited and demeaned by the Israeli government in a disgusting display of apartheid, in order to fix our world, we must end the occupation, end work towards regenerating and allowing Palestinians access to the land that has been robbed, destroyed, and made inhabitable to them by the Israeli occupation.
I encourage you all to read more about Palestine as a climate justice issue and continue to support ending the occupation and exploitation of Palestinians and their land.