Palestine is a climate justice issue

Palestinians walk past a pool of sewage on a beach in the northern Gaza Strip July 13, 2018. Picture taken July 13, 2018 [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]
Palestinians walk past a pool of sewage on a beach in the northern Gaza Strip July 13, 2018. Picture taken July 13, 2018 (photo: Mohammed Salem/Reuters)
The fight for climate justice for all is directly connected to the Palestinian struggle.

By Abeer Butmeh  | Al Jazerra | Nov 28, 2019

On the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, our Palestinian environmental organizations call for global pressure on Israel to end climate apartheid through boycotts of the Israeli government and institutions and companies that are complicit in destroying the environment, violating our rights and profiting from our resources.

This Friday, November 29, two major global events of great importance to me will coincide – the fourth Global Climate Strike, and the United Nations’s annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. This convergence also symbolically represents an important reality – that the fight for climate justice for all is directly connected to the Palestinian struggle. Palestine is a climate justice issue.

In my work coordinating Palestinian environmental organizations, I witness daily that for Palestinians, climate change is not just a natural phenomenon, but a political one. Israel’s regime of occupation and apartheid, which denies us the right to manage our land and resources, exacerbates the climate crisis Palestinians face, making us more vulnerable to climate-related events.

The most extreme example is the Gaza Strip, where two million Palestinians live in an open-air prison under Israeli occupation and siege. The UN projected that Gaza will be unlivable by 2020. Many say it already is.

Gaza’s acute shortage of potable water has been worsened, not only by climate change but also by Israel’s restrictions on the entry of materials and fuel needed for wastewater treatment. As a result, sewage has infiltrated Gaza’s aquifer and is flowing untreated into Gaza’s coastal waters, damaging marine life and health. Ninety-seven percent of Gaza’s scarce water is now unfit for human consumption and contaminated water causes 26 percent of all illnesses in Gaza, and is a leading cause of child deaths.

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