Environmental Injustice – Environmental Nakba
Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) was invited by Friends of the Earth Palestine (Pengon)* to observe the environmental consequences of the Israeli occupation. The Observer Mission took place between August 26 – 29. Bobby Peek of South Africa and Eurig Scandrett of Scotland represented Friends of the Earth International (FoEI).
For two days, Peek and Scandrett met with local mayors, administrators and communities in the West Bank. They witnessed the environmental impact of the Israeli occupation throughout the West Bank. Untreated Israeli sewage and industrial waste contaminates Palestinian land. Water from the West Bank is denied to Palestinians so that Israeli settlers can live on Palestinian land. They also heard stories of the use of military force to destroy Palestinian cisterns and wells.
“The theft of resources and the pollution of land and water are designed to serve only the interests of the apartheid state of Israel. This is nothing short of an environmental nakba**.” said Eurig Scandrett.
FoEI’s vision is of a peaceful and sustainable world, where societies live in harmony with nature; a society founded on social, economic, gender, and environmental justice, free from all forms of domination and exploitation. What the FoEI observer mission witnessed in the West Bank was almost the opposite of this vision.
The occupation of Palestinian lands by military might has resulted in the formalisation of the unequal relationship between the peoples of Israel and Palestine. Injustices damaging the health and wellbeing of Palestinian people and their environment will continue as long as this abnormal societal structure exists.
* The Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network- Friends of Earth Palestine (PENGON- FoE Palestine) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization established in 1996 to serve the Palestinian environment by coordinating the scattered efforts of the different Palestinian NGOs working in the field of environment. Pengon has 14 organisational members
** The word nakba is an Arabic word meaning catastrophe. Since the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948 and the consequential displacement of Palestinians, Palestinians mark Al-Nakba Day on 15 May every year.