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.

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Fighting for Palestine

A protester waves a Palestinian flag in front of the Jewish settlement of Ofra during clashes near the West Bank village of Deir Jarir near Ramallah on April 26, 2013 [File: Mohamed Torokman/Reuters]
A protester waves a Palestinian flag in front of the Jewish settlement of Ofra during clashes near the West Bank village of Deir Jarir near Ramallah on April 26, 2013. (photo: File: Mohamed Torokman/Reuters)

Despite repeatedly being cast as a nuisance to the peace and tranquillity of the world order, Palestinians continue their fight for true liberation.

By Mark Muhannad Ayyash | Al Jazeera | Oct 10, 2020

Attention is often given to the armed resistance, but far more numerous, diverse, and long-standing is the unarmed Palestinian resistance.

In the last few years, Israel has further cemented its grip on Palestine. The list of Palestinian losses is depressing: the marked movement towards international recognition of Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel, official annexation of Palestinian land, an increase in the number of settlers and the development of settlements on Palestinian lands, the horrific besiegement of Gaza and the world’s participation in the siege, the “de-development” of the Palestinian economy, uninhibited killing and maiming of Palestinians, suffocating restrictions on movement, gender-based violence in prisons and at checkpoints, continued demolitions of Palestinian homes, the stifling of Palestinian activism and speech for Palestinian rights in Western Europe and North America, and the rising tide of diplomatic normalcy between Israel and Arab states.

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JCB challenged over machinery used to demolish Palestinian homes

israeli excavators
Israeli excavators demolish the homes of Palestinians in the West Bank on 23 September 2020. (photo: Mamoun  / Anadolu Agency)
British manufacturing equipment company JCB will face investigation for their role in demolition of Palestinian homes.

By Patrick Wintour |  The Guardian  | Oct 13, 2020

‘JCB’s apparent failure to address the material and prolific use of its products in demolition and displacement incidents that cruelly impacts Palestinian families, and also its use in settlement-related construction which creates pervasive human rights violations, must cease immediately.’
— Tareq Shrourou, director of Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights

The British heavy machinery firm JCB’s sale of equipment used in the destruction of Palestinian villages in the Israeli-occupied West Bank is being examined by a UK government body to determine whether its due diligence process complies with human rights guidelines set by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The case is likely to test the degree to which multinationals are responsible if their export goods are sold by local distributors in ways that infringe human rights.

JCB, which has donated millions of pounds to the Conservative party and at least £25,000 to Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign, can now enter into government-overseen mediation with the NGO that made the claim or it can outright contest the claim.

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Palestinian hunger striker in mortal danger after 73 days without food

hunger strike
Palestinian administrative detainee Maher al-Akhras, 49, in Kaplan Medical Center, Rehovot, where is on day 73 of a hunger strike. (Oren Ziv/Activestills)
Maher al-Akhras  is on day 73 of a hunger strike in protest at his administrative detention by Israel.

By Oren Ziv |  +972 Magazine  | Oct 7, 2020

Maher is a Palestinian man who loves his homeland and his people. He is striking for his own honor and that of the Palestinian people.
— Taghrid, Maher al-Akhras’ wife

A Palestinian administrative detainee is facing mortal danger as he entered his 73rd day of a hunger strike in an Israeli hospital on Wednesday.

Maher al-Akhras, 49, is currently hospitalized in Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot, south of Tel Aviv in the center of the country, where he has refused all medical treatment and is only accepting water.

Two weeks ago, the Israeli High Court of Justice “froze” al-Akhras’ detention pending an improvement in his condition, yet refused to cancel it or allow him to leave the hospital. Al-Akhras is worried that he will be re-arrested after he resumes eating and is demanding assurances that this will not be the case

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U.S. Premiere: ‘There is a Field’ Documentary Film Screening and Discussion

There is a Field

Please join our brothers and sisters at Donkeysaddle Projects for the premiere of their new documentary film, There Is A Field, by Jen Marlowe.  This film tells the story of Asel Asleh, a 17-year-old Palestinian peace activist, son, brother, and friend who was murdered by Israeli police. The story is performed by Black Lives Matter activists and artists, who reflect upon the parallels they see between Asel’s story and the experiences of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities in the United States.
Date: Sunday, October 18, 2020
Time: 3:00 pm EST / 12:00 pm PST
Location: Virtual
Information: Event information here →
Tickets: Tickets
Event Details

The film is the culmination of over ten years of DSP’s work to amplify Asel’s story and elevate the connections between Black and Palestinian struggles against intersecting systems of oppression. Amidst this current political moment in the U.S. where there is renewed conversation about state violence and structural racism, we look forward to premiering the film as a solidarity offering to our communities.

The panel discussion after the screening will include:

Baraa Aslih (brother of Asel)
Gwen Carr (mother of Eric Garner)
Margaret Kwateng (activist who performs in the film)
Jen Marlowe (filmmaker)
Raya Naamneh (Asel’s cousin & activist)
Moderator: Nadia Ben-Youssef of the Center for Constitutional Rights

More information here →

Israel lobby will face blowback, eventually

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators protest in the halls of York University in Toronto. (Photo: via Twitter)

Recent events show the strength of Israeli lobbying efforts to marginalize those who criticize the Palestinian civil society-led Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.

By Yves Engler  |  The Palestine Chronicle |  Oct 2, 2020

A week ago Israel lobby groups convinced Zoom to cancel a San Francisco State University talk with Palestinian resistance icon Leila Khaled, former South African minister Ronnie Kasrils, director of women’s studies at Birzeit University Rula Abu Dahou, and others. It is thought to be the first time Zoom has ever suppressed a university-sponsored talk.

How much is too much? When will Israeli nationalists in North America completely discredit themselves by overusing their power to crush those defending Palestinians?

The recent ruthlessness of the Israel lobby is remarkable. Recently they’ve convinced Zoom to cancel a university-sponsored talk, a prominent law program to rescind a job offer, a public broadcaster to apologize for using the word Palestine and companies to stop delivering for a restaurant.

A week ago Israel lobby groups convinced Zoom to cancel a San Francisco State University talk with Palestinian resistance icon Leila Khaled, former South African minister Ronnie Kasrils, director of women’s studies at Birzeit University Rula Abu Dahou, and others. It is thought to be the first time Zoom has ever suppressed a university-sponsored talk.

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Podcast: Stopping Israel’s arms industry

Interviews with activists involved in challenging the complicity of corporations in the war industry.

By Nora Barrows-Friedman |  The Electronic Intifada Podcast  | Sept 30, 2020

On Episode 24 of The Electronic Intifada Podcast, we speak with several boycott campaigners taking direct action against corporations involved in Israel’s military occupation and settlement industry.

Huda Ammori of Palestine Action tells us about their strategy to end the presence of Israeli arms dealers in the UK.

“The weapons that are being made to use against [Palestinians] are being made in front of you, and we have an ability to stop it,” she says.

And we speak to Dalit Baum and Noam Perry of the American Friends Service Committee in the US about the new No Dough for the Occupation campaign targeting baked goods company Pillsbury and its parent corporation General Mills.

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The Lancet censors Gaza health letter after pro-Israel pressure

A doctor in Gaza City is using a temperature test machine to test a boy for coronavirus. (photo: Ashraf Amra / APA images)
The Lancet took down a letter on Gaza’s health crisis to avoid upsetting Israel’s supporters.

By Omar Karmi |  The Electric Intifada  |  Oct 1, 2020

But the fear is…that medical journals are now subject to indirect censorship or self-censorship on Palestine as a result of the “overall chilling effect’ of the campaign against The Lancet.
— Dr. Bram Wispelwey of Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital

With a fresh spike in the number of coronavirus infections, Gaza is yet again facing the very real prospect that its healthcare system will be overwhelmed.

Gaza is not just fighting a global pandemic. Under an Israeli blockade and successive military attacks since 2007, the coastal strip is fighting one of the highest levels of poverty and unemployment in the world as well as a crumbling infrastructure, including in its health sector.

A severe shortage of medicine and medical equipment that is directly linked to the Israeli siege could, combined with the ravages of a pandemic, threaten the health service with complete collapse.

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Second Palestinian child in Israeli custody tests positive for COVID-19

A Palestinian boy walks past street art showing a COVID-19 coronavirus, in Gaza City on September 22, 2020. (photo: AFP / Mohammed Abed)
Israel’s detention and prosecution of children in military courts is a human rights issue and the stakes are even higher during a pandemic.

By No Way to Treat a Child  |  Oct 2, 2020

‘Israeli authorities have exhibited near-complete disregard for Palestinian child detainees’ health and well-being amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,’
— Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCIP

Ramallah, September 30, 2020—A 14-year-old Palestinian boy detained by Israeli forces from the occupied West Bank in mid-September tested positive for COVID-19 after spending two days in Israeli custody.

Israeli forces detained the 14-year old Palestinian boy* around noon on September 15 in the Bab al-Zawya area of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron. He was transferred to an Israeli police station in Kiryat Arba, an illegal settlement in the southernmost West Bank governorate of Hebron. After he was interrogated and accused of stone-throwing, Israeli authorities transferred him to Etzion detention center around 8 p.m.

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‘A glimpse into the chaos’: How Israel’s COVID-19 policy neglects Palestinian citizens

A man checks the temperature of a customer to identify if he has a fever, in the northern Arab town of Deir al-Asad, April 18, 2020. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)
A man checks the temperature of a customer to identify if he has a fever, in the northern Arab town of Deir al-Asad, April 18, 2020. (photo: Basel Awidat / Flash90)
Experts warn that Israel’s failure to conduct Arabic outreach and include Arab professionals has made it harder to stem the spread of the virus in Palestinian towns:

By Makbula Nassar | +972 Magazine |  Sept 21, 2020

‘Not only is there no spokesperson for Arab communities [during the second wave], but Palestinian experts are excluded from decision-making around stemming the spread of the virus, and there is no serious consultation with Arab medics,’
— Faten Ghattas, public health expert

Israel entered a weeks-long lockdown on Friday to stem a second wave of the coronavirus. As is in other parts of the world, statistics are showing that minority communities, in this case Palestinians, are being disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

It is a cliche, and an inaccurate one, to say that the coronavirus does not distinguish between Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel. Even the struggle shared by Jewish and Palestinian medical workers in hospitals and clinics is not proof that we are all in the same boat. If anything, the Arab community is on a boat that is floating to a particularly dark place.

In mere weeks of the second wave gripping the country, Palestinian citizens went from constituting 10 percent of patients who tested positive to the virus, to 30 percent — and the curve is rising sharply. The English Hospital in Nazareth, which has traditionally treated mostly Palestinian citizens, has had to open another coronavirus clinic.

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