Earth Day Embraces Palestinian Land Day
Statement Issued by Land Research Center on the Occasion of Earth Day, 22 April 2020
When a large oil spill on California’s Pacific Coast triggered U.S. Senator Gaylord Nilson to lead a massive popular campaign that attracted 20 million protestors in the first Earth Day in 1970, perhaps he never thought that a racist regime (Israel) supported by his own administration would trigger Palestinians, six years later, to burst with anger on their Land Day on 30 March 1976.
At the time, the international system was compelled to recognize our responsibility towards Mother Earth and her rights, as we are living on it, exploiting its resources, and violating its magnificent god-created nature.
However, The Israeli settler-colonial occupation does not recognize Palestinians’ right to their own land, and is still committing flagrant human rights violations. Among many others, the colonizers defiled the natural environment by draining Lake Hula and seizing control over the Jordan River, resulting in a 60m drop in the level of the Dead Sea. This is, in fact, a crime against humanity, the planet, and its every life form, considering that these are unique natural sites.
In parallel to land grabs and demolitions of Palestinian homes, the Israeli occupation uproots trees, ravages farmlands, and demolishes cisterns. Moreover, Israel renders Palestinian agricultural lands dumping sites for its sewage, chemical and industrial waste, turning these natural zones into a health hazard. These measures seek eventually to force Palestinian farmers away from their farmlands, paving the way for the occupation to seize them and hand them out to illegal foreign colonists under illogical narratives – attributed to religion.
Last year (the Corona year) witnessed an escalation of vicious violations against Palestinian rights to land and housing. Environmental violations doubled in comparison to the past few years, which, we believe, is related to Palestinians’ absence from their farmlands while complying with the World Health Organization confinement instructions to combat the widespread of the Corona virus. During these times, illegal Israeli colonists created about 270 dumpsites on privately owned Palestinian lands, without any consideration to human or environment rights.
About six permanent streams of sewage water flow through the occupied West Bank, inundating trees and plants along 100 kilometers. The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) uprooted, destroyed and torched 21,965 trees, of which 80% are olives, in addition to ravaging, destroying and polluting 3,830 dunums of agricultural lands. The IOF also destroyed 78 cisterns and water reservoirs, and demolished 883 houses and built facilities, rendering about 1,600 citizens (about 50% females) homeless, more than half of whom are children, all due to coldblooded criminals wreaking havoc across this planet.
The Palestinian people, while celebrating Earth Day, call on environmental activists to safeguard the resources of this planet, and stop the crimes carried out against Palestinians, their natural resources and environment, holding the IOF and Israeli settlers responsible accountable before international law.
Let this be an outcry from Palestinian people to all humans to advocate the rights of this planet, the land and its people, and to protect them from violations before it’s too late. For indeed, oppression is followed by even more-disastrous consequences.
Land Research Center
Arab Studies Society – Land Research Center (LRC) – Jerusalem
Member of Palestinian Environmental NGO Network
Main Road, P.O. Box 35, Halhul, West Bank, Palestine
Telefax: +972 (0)2 221–7239, E-mail: LRC@palnet.com, URL: www.lrcj.org
Photo: View of the Jordan River Valley. Source: HLRN file.