By Sophia Javed – Media Review Network
(source: Street News Service)
The sight of nature stimulates man’s senses in ways unbeknownst to him. It unravels his deepest questions about his very own existence and the existence and synergy that melodiously intertwines the natural beauty that surrounds him. The trees intrinsic to the natural beauty of earth tell stories and give lessons to those who are willing to listen.
As the ethnic cleansing of Palestine steam rolled ahead in 1948, the trees of the holy land which had been planted, cultivated and respected for numerous centuries were a feeble sacrifice for the Zionist looters. Just as the lives of the Palestinians who were executed, raped and forcibly evicted meant nothing, the trees and eco-systems that had sufficed a society from beneath the feet of Jesus and Moses themselves meant even less.
The irony was that those confiscated Palestinian lands which did not have the most optimal gains were razed to the ground and new trees were planted over them to camouflage the misdeeds of the Zionist hooligans. This tree-planting phenomenon led many to believe that the Jewish National Fund, whom carried out such planting were environmental saviours for bringing nature back to God’s Garden as they had often claimed that Palestine was a barren desert before they colonised it.
Israel and the JNF are anything but saviours to the environment or humanity as a whole. The social, economic, political and humanitarian costs of the occupation and colonisation which they have sustained for more than six decades has been reported, investigated, documented and declared illegal by nearly every institution that has examined it, but the environmental costs of this conflict are not only as enormous as these other costs but shall be experienced by generations to come. We are familiar with the environmental damage caused by military conflicts but when these are added to other sources of damage and destruction the cost to the environment is hard to ignore.
Firstly the construction of the wall itself, not only destroyed many natural habitats which had built their environments within the vicinity but also implied the demolition of crucial water wells supplying the inhabitants of the OPT as well as disturbing animal and plant patterns, the micro-biology of the area and an alteration of water quality and quantity as well as groundwater levels.
Secondly the settlements built around the wall and encroaching upon the land declared to be a part of Palestine has capitalised on the material and natural resources reserved for use by Palestine alone. It has often been stated that the water usage of one settler household equates the water usage of 100 Palestinians. Given the fact that sophisticated water and electricity systems are built to support settler residents, it is no wonder that Palestinian water and electricity supply is being negotiated. The average Palestinian uses 50-70 litres of water a day compared to the UN average of 120 litres a day to sustain adequate hygiene.
To make matters worse, these settlers living on illegal land belonging to Palestine, not only deprive Palestinians of natural resources but also dump 224,000 tonnes of waste into Palestine polluting the very same villages that do not have sophisticated sewerage systems to dispose of such waste. And as the Israeli government does not allow Palestinians to dispose of waste out of the city centre, rubbish is burnt in-town causing immense air pollution and major health problems in an already doomed society.
Climate change and environmental awareness is a buzz-word. We’re all trying to reduce our carbon footprint on earth to make the world a better place for those to come. Israel cannot diminish her carbon footprint by planting trees over the ones that were uprooted. Nor can she diminish her footprint by leading research into alternative energy. She needs to first accept the inalienable rights of the indigenous population to determine their own fate. By giving these people the freedom that they yearn for, the natural beauty that surrounds the holy land will be luminous again and will radiate with the freedom of its farmers.