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Mission 4/1 Earth
• Mira Rizeq
• National General Secretary
• YWCA of Palestine
• Cleveland, 16 April 2013
“To tend a garden is a precious thing,
But dearer still the one where all may roam,
The weeds of poison, poverty, and war,
Demand your care, who call the earth your home.”
KATHY GALLOWAY, attributed, Soul Weavings
Environmental Abuse….or Challenges?
• There are many environmental challenges
facing the Palestinians
– Solid Waste: environmental hazards
– Waste water: lack of proper treatment
– Water: control and pollution
– Land Confiscations and erosion of Agriculture Land
– House Demolitions
– Industrial waste
– Air pollution
Solid Waste: A Real Hazard…
• In the WBGS, 78.4% of the households dispose
their solid wastes by throwing it in the nearest
• 21.6% throws it elsewhere or burns it.
• Some 82.3% of the total solid waste in the
WBGS is food waste.
• Solid waste is often dumped uncontrolled and
untreated into the open or burnt.
There are water disparities and restrictions in accessing natural resources or pollution sources, in addition to
air, water and solid wastes that are greatly threatening landscapes, human health, economic prosperity and
ecosystems in Palestine. (EcoPeace – Friends of the Earth Middle East)
The Situation of Sewage in WB/GS
• 80% of domestic wastewater is discharged into
the environment without treatment. (PASSIA)
• Some 90,000 m of sewage are pumped into the
sea every day
• About 40% of all sewage produced in the WB
(including East Jerusalem) originates from Israeli
settlers who dump raw sewage directly into the
surrounding environment.
(PWA through PASSIA)
Water Control and Abuse
• 450,000 settlers use more water than 2.3 million
• Israeli settlements are built over the major aquifers in the
• 80% of the available water in the OPT is diverted to Israeli
• 56 water springs are located in the vicinity of Israeli
• Palestinians are obliged to buy their own water from Israel.
• Over 70% of Palestinian communities located entirely or
mostly in Area C are not connected to the water network
and rely on tanked water at vastly increased cost
Water Control and Abuse
Palestinian domestic water consumption: 50 liters per capita per day.
Israeli domestic water consumption: 280 liters per capita per day.
(B’tselem via Ewash)
Gaza water is
contaminated; unfit for
consumption, and
suffers from high
percentage of salinity.
About 26% of diseases
in Gaza are associated
with water. (UNICEF)
A Palestinian boys drinks water from a public tap at the United Nations
Relief and Works Agency headquarters in the southern Gaza Strip Rafah
refugee camp. Photograph: Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images
Water Control and Abuse
It is estimated that if Palestinians were allowed a
fair share of water resources and if restrictions in
Area C were lifted, an additional agricultural
production worth $1.22 billion could be
generated yearly. (EWASH)
Photo: Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC)
A “normal” day in Palestine that depicts mobility restrictions.
Photo Courtesy by Photographer Ahmad Daghlas
Land Confiscation and Degradation
• Since 1967, more than 900,000 dunums of land
have been confiscated and demolished for
settlement use and access roads in the WB and
Gaza. (555,000 dunums confiscated to construct
the expansion and annexation wall)
• In 2012, 540 Palestinian-owned structures in
Area C, including 165 residential structures, were
demolished due to lack of Israeli-issued permits,
displacing 815 people, over half of them children.
Abu Ghneim/Har Homa
House Demolitions
About 27,000 Palestinian homes and structures
have been destroyed since 1967. Between
2000 and Aug. 2012, 467 structures were
demolished, including 140 residential homes,
displacing some 702 people. (ICAHD, through PASSIA)
The Aftermath…..House Demolitions
The Damage of Agriculture in Palestine
• The agricultural output has been seriously damaged
in Palestine.
• The proportion of GDP earned from agriculture fell
from 28% to 5.6% in the past twenty years.
• The inability of farmers to cultivate or harvest their
crops undermines the fragile Palestinian economy
and makes arable subsistence for communities less
• 24% of the Palestinian population in Area C are food
insecure compared to 17% in the remainder of the
West Bank.
The Olive Trees
• Out of the 7.6 million olive trees, over 2.1 million are
inaccessible due to the separation wall, check points
and other mobility restriction structures instituted by
Israeli Occupation.
• More than 80,000 Palestinian families depend on the
annual olive harvest for their livelihoods . The olive
oil industry makes up 4% of the agricultural income
for the OPT. (UN – OCHA)
• Since 2001, half a million olive trees have reportedly
been uprooted in the OPT.
Olive tree vandalized by settlers in the Tuwani fields, near the outpost of Havat Maon, South Hebron Hills,
October 28, 2012. Photo by Guy/Taayush
Bil’in: An olive tree is burning because of the tear gas canister –
(2011, Demotix – The Network for Freelance Photojournalists)
A Palestinian boy sits atop a pile of olive trees uprooted to make way
for the Israeli separation wall surrounding the West Bank town of Al-Walaja.
(Photo by Ryan Rodrick Beiler)
White Phosphorous: Poisoning People
• Israel has condemned for using whitephosphorous against the UN and other targets
during airstrikes over Gaza
• White phosphorous creates an intense and
persistent burn emitting heat and absorbing
liquid. It also can penetrate the body and
poison organs.
”Despite the efforts of the Israeli government to suppress internationals
from working in solidarity with the Palestinians, hope, like the olive tree,
continues to grow and prosper from the most seemingly desolate of
Andrew Long-Higgins serves as a Global Mission Intern in the Middle East and Europe area. His work with Global
Ministries is funded by your offerings to Week of Compassion. 2013
“The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,
the world and those who live in it.”
(Psalm 24:1)
Up Against the Wall – From Palestine to Mexico

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