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How Israel’s actions aren’t just a human genocide but an environmental one too

By Zahra Ahmad

“As Gaza enters the rainy season, we expect the rain to fall as acid rain, contaminated with white phosphorus,” said Al Jazeera. Israel’s current measures in Palestine aren’t only genocidal to those living there but to the environment, as well. Activists across the globe have been crying out for a halt to Israel’s international crimes, and scientists have joined in issuing warnings about the ecological disasters Israel’s actions permit.

According to the Geneva-based Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, Israel has dropped 25,000 tonnes of bombs on Gaza, the equivalent of two nuclear bombs. Not only is this devastating to those directly impacted but should be alarming to the world. clarifies, “Even small-scale use of nuclear warheads could deplete the ozone layer, raise global temperatures even further, and hasten the effects of global warming.” Now imagine what large scale warfare may mean for the planet.

Despite calls for action, many world leaders have been passive in responding to Israel’s annihilation of Palestinian lives and land. However, reports detailing Israel’s environmental damage are becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. 

“Israel is the 10th largest weapons exporter in the world, contributing significantly to global air pollution and widespread ecological damage” The IMEU has shed light on the irreversible harm caused by Israel’s actions, noting, “Israel’s devastating 2014 attack.. destroyed Gaza’s only power plant, which ignited 520,000 gallons of diesel fuel and severely polluted the air.” 

Air pollution exacerbates the already rapid rise in temperatures in the Middle East, with temperature rates doubling the rest of the world, resulting in a 1.5 degrees Celsius increase in the region. However the area isn’t only subjected to air pollution. 

“Years of Israeli military attacks on Gaza have destroyed pipelines and sanitation facilities, making it impossible to develop adequate water and waste infrastructure. As a result, tens of thousands of cubic yards of wastewater are poured into the ocean every day, seeping into the groundwater and contaminating agricultural production and air quality,” according to The IMEU. 

Although these efforts to exterminate Palestinians are made, even Israel is not immune to the environmental destruction it has produced. Soon water-borne diseases will be inescapable regardless of ethnicity or race. 

The lack of accountability regarding Israel’s blatant international crimes is deeply disappointing. The use of white phosphorus on Palestinians is a prime example of abuse of power not only to humans but to the land, as well. Khaled El-Sayed, managing director of the Cairo-based Synerjies Center for International and Strategic Studies and advisor on sustainable development, elaborated on its effects. 

“The highly toxic substance burns through human flesh and reignites,” he said. “It damages soil, contaminates water sources, and poisons aquatic ecosystems” 

Not only was the soil contaminated but entire ecosystems were thrown off. 

“Israel uprooted native trees and agricultural crops—such as carobs, hawthorns, oaks, olives, figs, and almonds—and replaced them with over 4 million non-native European species.. These non-native trees have caused vast environmental damage, reducing biodiversity, increasing droughts, and worsening wildfires throughout the region,” according to the IMEU. 

Many still argue that Israel has adequate contributions to environmental protection and climate change due to its signing of the Paris Agreement and numerous desalination facilities. However “Israel’s ecological footprint far exceeds the biocapacity of the land, ranking third in the world for its biocapacity deficit.” contradicts The IMEU. Although under occupation, Palestinians have made a greater effort to ensure sustainability, with over 60 percent of Gazans energy sourced from solar power, recorded Al Jazeera. 

Rather than receiving support for their efforts, “Israeli bombings had damaged or destroyed thousands of buildings, many of which were roofed with solar panels,” said Al Jazeera. 

This lack of accountability of Israel and its sustained corruption, from environmental injustices alone poses a danger not just to Palestinians, but the entire world. While claiming ecological care, in actuality Israel is committing environmental exploitation. Green washing and annihilation must be called out, the term “environmental genocide” must be acknowledged for what it is.

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