Israeli occupation of Palestine is devastating the natural environment

Israeli forces have uprooted over 800,000 trees since 1967. (Image from MEMO)
The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has devastated the environment, but there is a movement for environmental justice and sustainability growing even under the very difficult conditions of occupation and colonization.

By Mazin B. Qumsiyeh and Mohammed A. Abusarhan |  Israel-Palestine News (reposted from Science for the People) | Oct 16, 2020

Environmental sustainability was never a priority for Israel, whose practices detrimentally affected the landscape, resulting in the destruction of diverse habitats and water runoff.

Colonial Impact on the Environment

Uprooted trees
Once Israel was declared a Jewish state in May 1948, native trees (such as oaks, carobs, and hawthorns) and agricultural crops (olives, figs, and almonds) were systematically uprooted and replaced by European pine trees. These planted pines reduced biodiversity and harmed the local environment.

Pines shed leaves that are acidic and prevent the growth of underbrush plants. These trees are also very susceptible to fire because of their resins. Indeed, fires are now a common occurrence in the areas in which they were planted. Trees, however, were not the only targets of Israel’s colonial practices.

Confiscated aquifers
Natural resources, primarily water aquifers, have also been confiscated from the Palestinians. This often happened by deliberately building Israeli colonies on hilltops to ensure effective access to these resources and to maintain surveillance over the Palestinians.

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