As we saw in the recent Gaza and Lebanon wars, violent conflict can be a major obstacle to environmental protection in the Middle East.
Recently, a letter signed by Issac Ben David, deputy director of Israel’s Ministry for Environmental Protection, and addressed to Major-General Gadi Shamni, commander-in-chief of Israel’s central command, contained even more evidence that this is the case.
Ben David’s May 12 letter informed Maj-Gen Shamni that at least five Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) bases in the Palestinian Territories are contaminating land and water sources. Handling of diesel fuel and oil on IDF bases, as well as other military activities, are a major source of contamination.
Although not included in the letter, environmentalists say that the lack of IDF sewage infrastructure accounts for 50% of Israel’s untreated sewage.
The letter expressed a “bleak picture of neglect and severe damage to the environment.” It also said that ministry inspectors “found that this not due to lack of infrastructure but to criminal neglect on the part of the persons in charge.”
In response, the IDF spokesperson’s unit responded, “The IDF is aware of the importance of environmental issues and makes efforts to treat the existing hazards.”
The contamination of natural resources in the Palestinian Territories also raises questions about environmental justice, since this pollution is ultimately the result of Israeli military action in this area. However, this problem also underscores the interconnectivity of the Israeli and Palestinian environments; since both peoples live in such proximity to each other, it is unlikely that the effects of land and water contamination will stop at the Green Line and that Israelis will remain unaffected.
:: Irin News
More on the environment and conflict in Israel & the Palestinian Territories:
Recent Gaza Conflict Has Environmental Impacts, Too!
Israelis, Palestinians Dispute Over Quarries in the West Bank
Water Relationship Possibilities Between Israel and Gazans In Better Days