Palestinian PM calls Israeli occupation ‘destructive to humans and environment’

Nada al-Taher

The National  /  November 9, 2022

More than 2.5 million trees have been uprooted since the 1967 war, Mohammad Shtayyeh says.

The Israeli occupation of Palestine is “destroying nature”, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said at the Cop27 climate conference in Egypt on Tuesday.

“The situation in Palestine is an exception because its suffering is doubled,” he said.

“On one hand, there is an Israeli colonial military occupation that is destructive to humans and the environment and, on the other hand, it is affected by climate change, like the rest of the world.

“The Israeli occupation, through the settlements, is destroying nature, stealing resources, burying its solid and dangerous waste in our land, stealing our water and uprooting our trees.”

Gaza, which has been under Israeli blockade for 15 years, has been described as a huge open-air prison. It is one of the world’s most densely populated areas.

“Gaza suffers from reduced rainfall, annual seawater level rises and more extreme heat events already as a result of climate change,” Amira Aker, a postdoctoral fellow at Canada’s Université Laval, previously told The National.

“Hundreds of years ago, Gaza was considered an oasis due to the abundance of water it had.

Today, Gaza’s underground water sources are overused and its sea is contaminated with sewage waste, which seeps into the freshwater supplies, the scientist said.

In May, an 11-day war with Israel resulted in the destruction of sewage and water purification plants that supplying drinking water to hundreds of thousands of people.

“Israel’s uprooting of trees along its border with Gaza, causes the soil to lose organic material and carry less roots with which to hold on to water, contributing to desertification,” Ms Aker said.

More than 2.5 million trees have been uprooted since Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, Mr Shtayyeh told the audience at Cop27. The financial impact is also dire, he said.

“The Israeli occupation, with its entire colonial system, extracts $41 billion from our national capabilities annually, in addition to the depletion of our water resources, as we have a water deficit of up to 135 million cubic metres annually, and the Palestinian consumes a third of the water consumed by the Israelis.”