22 August 2019

London – The international platform of NGOs working for Palestine has called on civil society organizations and other community organizations, and Palestinian governmental and non-governmental organizations concerned with the environment to take urgent measures that help in exposing the Israeli occupation policies towards the Palestinian environment and resources. The urgent need to clarify the true image of the Palestinian people hardships, this image should reach the international organizations with the power to make a difference such as the United Nations organizations concerned with environmental, agriculture, food, health and civilized human life, and the organizations working in conserving the human right to live in a free environment away from anything that might violate his rights.

The international platform said that while the entire world is concerned with the environment and its problems, how  global conferences are held to examine the mechanisms for environment conservation, the need for sustainable development that preserve the human race , the Palestinian environment  has been facing destructive practices against all of its vital components such as: land, air, water, people and animals. all the previously mentioned component are subjected to the most aggressive environmental degradation towards them, this started since the beginning of Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967 and continued till this day.

 The Israeli aggressions threaten the Palestinian environment in all its aspects, both natural and human alike. These aggressive policies is directed to make a fundamental change in the Palestinian natural resources leading to a major and critical damage in the Palestinian environmental system decreasing by that its effectiveness. Therefore, the importance of directing the attention toward the environment issues is a necessary and urgent task in resisting the occupation policies.  

The Palestinian territories have been suffering from many acts of aggressions from both the Israeli’s occupation and the settlers for many years. The effects of these aggressions can be seen when comparing the Palestinian lands from being green fields and farms, these lands were being dredged then turned into settlements constructed on these areas, other lands were made into bypass roads for settlers use only, other were considered safe zones and military check points, these lands became a  dumpsites for vast amounts of solid and toxic waste and wastewater that accumulated to spreading insects and epidemics, odors and carcinogenic diseases, even wild animals abandoned their dens and holes, under the pressure of dredging, the  noises, and the air filled with dust and toxic gases and dangerous radiation, the use of pesticides to burn agricultural land, In addition to the military activities of the occupation and its repeated wars, the biggest dilemma now is water that is subjected to a large drain operation, also the deliberate pollution in the remaining parts of water resources.

The following report reviews the main activities and policies of the Israeli occupation towards the Palestinian environment and its vital resources in the West Bank areas and cities; the report is essentially an urgent appeal to environmental organizations and other Palestinian civil society organizations to act in order to expose Israeli practices towards the Palestinian people and  the environment of Palestine.

Since its occupation of the West Bank in 1967, Israel has controlled area "C" lands, which is estimated to be more than 60% of the West Bank, Israel had settled  around 700,000 settlers in these lands, by these actions the Israel’s had  turned Palestinian areas and cities into huge dumping sites for toxic and dangerous waste.

According to specialized Palestinian reports, about 60% of the various Israeli wastes are disposed of in the Palestinian territories, that there are 98 Israeli landfills scattered in the occupied West Bank, which are used to dump waste coming from inside Israel besides the tenth of random landfills the settlements used for disposing their waste. B'Tselem organization had mentioned in a report in the end of 2017 that 60% of the toxic "sludge" generated by wastewater treatment plants in Israel is poured into the Palestinian Jordan Valley in the east of the West Bank.

"Israel" produces annually more than 350 thousand tons of hazardous waste, they disposed about 200 thousand tons of them in the West Bank areas annually, with a large number of  “Israeli “factories  that moved to work in settlements on the territory of the West Bank in order to dispose the factories waste there, these are factories that refine burned oils, toxic chemical residues, electronic, and other waste,  factories which produce black clouds of smoke and gases, and have confiscated land and various Palestinian natural resources such as water and stones from crushers established in these areas.

Israel has always depleted natural resources in the West Bank, they overexploited through waste treatment plants that have severely damaged the health of the Palestinian population, families and nature. Israel has established 15 treatment plants facilities in the West Bank, of which six of them treat hazardous wastes  that’s located near Palestinian villages and cities, These activities are carried out under the knowledge of the Israeli authorities, with the encouragement of the Israeli government, which has taken extensive measures to close landfills and solid waste treatment plants inside Israel and transferred them to the West Bank due to the toxic substances and hazardous these treatment plants emissions. Thousands of  tons of these toxic waste are being buried without treatment in unauthorized dumping sites in the West Bank, another waste are just dumped without being buried or treated .

In a report by The Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network, an organization representing 16 Palestinian environmental organizations, the report indicate that the rates of radioactive materials in a large number of soil samples in several cities and areas in the West Bank were higher than internationally permitted rates, a higher concentrations of these hazardous substances used in industries within the soil, and this has been reflected on the population in the regions causing several  health issues such as the significant increase in number of people with cancer, the increase in birth defects  for fetuses and young children, and the prevalence of infertility cases that have emerged in the population.

"Israel" is a member of a large number of international conventions concerned with the preservation of the environment and agricultural cover, also preventing violation against natural and human life in all its components. these international organizations and conventions can be the judge of the Israeli policies in reality, These agreements and protocols that Israel is part of include: the Rotterdam Convention of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the Ramsar Convention, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety; Article 55 of the first additional protocol of 1977, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, air quality agreements, the Vienna Charter, the Montreal Protocol, and other conventions such as the Basel Convention and the Barcelona Convention, even though Israel violates most of these environmental agreements.

Finally, this report aims to draw attention to the environmental and health violations the Palestinian people suffer from in the areas and cities of the West Bank, it review the continued and repeated practices that "Israeli” policies use against the Palestinian people  in all walks of life since previous years, which calls for organizations and concerned parties to take practical and serious steps to address and stop such violations.

This report is an open call to more than 40 Palestinian civil society organizations concerned with the environment and other community-based organizations, in addition to Palestinian governmental and non-governmental institutions, to pressure the international community in exposing the policies and actions of the Israeli occupation towards the Palestinian environment and resources, the  health of the Palestinian people, their future, and the future of the next generations, mainly through a number of procedures and activities, such as preparing investigative reports and filing them as special cases and complaints to international organizations, conducting media campaigns documenting the serious effects of the Israeli practices, organizing voluntary programs to address the expansion and spread of these wastes.

The Department of Studies and Resources of the International Platform of NGOs Working for Palestine (iPalestine) is committed to producing a number of periodic studies and articles that review the nature of Israeli violations in the West Bank and the most prominent activities of Palestinian civil society organizations in their different and specialized contexts, and the challenges facing the work of organizations in Palestine.