We have recently covered the great work of the regional environmental organisation Friends of the Earth Middle East and how they have managed to promote eco-peace to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Now, we look at how they helped bring together Palestinians and Israelis in one community in the Occupied Palestinian Territories to preserve water and also to stop the separation wall from dividing them forever.
Adversely affected by the expansion of Israeli settlements and the Israeli separation wall, Palestinians from Wadi Fukin and Israelis from the local village of Tsur Hadassah got together to resolve the issue. One filmmaker who captured their campaign back in 2010 is now hoping to get raise enough funds to take their message of ecological peace to other villages across Palestine and Israel.
Wadi Fukin is a Palestinian valley which has been designated by UNESCO as the best preserved natural heritage site of its kind in the West Bank. However the ongoing expansion of settlements, which has taken water from the valley, as well as contamination from raw sewage has threatened its future existence.
When villagers heard of plans to build a wall separating them from their Israeli neighbours, it was the final straw. They got together with Israelis from the local village of Tsur Hadessah to campaign against it on ecological reasons. A lengthy campaigned ensued (lasting over three years) consisting of protests and petitions and in the end their case won out at the High Court.
As Joshka Wessels, the director behind the film project, states in an article at Palestinenote.com: “The building of the Wall has now been frozen based on environmental grounds. How long this freeze will last is unclear. But the fact that they were successful in stopping the Wall gives some little hope.” Indeed when Wessels heard about the story, she realised it was a unique story of friendship in a hostile environment and wanted to tell the story to a wider audience.
“I hope by telling their story, viewers realise that an important part of people living inside the Israeli-Palestinian conflict really want a genuine peace,” she adds. “They are just like you and me. They want a sustainable future for their children.”
The project which is named ‘Valley of Hope and Despair’ also hopes to highlight the fact the damage done to the environment will affect both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The environment knows no borders and if there is no awareness of the severe damage to the environment done by the Israeli occupation, the consequences might lead to an ultimate lose-lose situation for both sides and both peoples.
:: Image via Valley of Hope and Despair facebook page.
For more on the environment in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict see: