Palestine: It's Hell
John Reese was in Palestine for seven months in 2002 working with the
International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and the Palestinian Hydrology Group
(PHG).Â While in Palestine he coordinated the ISM actions, was the
coordinator for the Olive Harvest Campaign and was the nonviolence trainer
for ISM. He also collected information on the environmental effects of the
illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine and was one of the authors and
editors of the Palestinian Environmental NGOâ€™s Networkâ€™s (PENGONâ€™s) first
report on the Israeli Apartheid Wall.Â John traveled to over 40 cities across
the US in January and March, 2003, showing his slide presentation and telling stories about people living under occupation. A peace activist since the Vietnam War and a hydrogeologist and environmental consultant for 20 years,
John talked about the impacts of war and the occupation on the environment of
Palestine.Â John will be touring again from April 12 through May 14 in the US
and from May 17 through May 31 in Europe. He will then return to Palestine.
About the Presentation
The Israeli Occupation Force (IOF) is not only making war on the people of
Palestine, but it is also making war on the environment.Â The IOF is using
the environment as a weapon to drive Palestinians from land that has been
theirs for thousands of years.Â Industries, colonies and the IOF dump their waste on it, destroy trees that are hundreds of years old, deplete and
pollute the water, and destroy the natural flora and fauna of Palestine.
The environmental destruction caused both directly and indirectly
by the Israeli occupation of Palestine is severe. Groundwater is being
withdrawn faster than it can be replenished. Drinking water is contaminated due to broken pipelines which results in drinking water mixing with sewage.
Over 250,000 olive trees and other fruit trees have been destroyed in the
last 2 years. In some areas air pollution has become a problem due to the
burning of garbage. This is all in addition to the environmental destruction
that wars and their industries bring â€“ from uranium poisoning by the use of
depleted uranium shells to land and property laid waste by fire, bombings and
the machines of war.
During the thirty-five years of occupation, Israeli authorities
have neglected to consider the management, transfer, or disposal of solid waste within the occupied territories. As a consequence, Israeli settlements and military camps dump solid waste in the occupied territories without
regard to the environmental impacts. Settlements annually discharge 224
thousand tons of waste within Palestine often polluting villages, streams and
the fields of Palestinian farms. As a result this land is rendered unfit for
either agricultural or domestic uses. The Israeli authorities also prevent
municipalities from transporting solid waste to dumping sites outside city
and village boundaries. Many Palestinian villages and cities have no other
choice but to resort to using alternative dumping sites in urban areas where
there is no monitoring for the health and safety of the environment.
The building of the Apartheid Wall intensifies these problems in
the surrounding areas and poses immediate and long-term destruction and
degradation to the Palestinian environment and natural resources. The impact on water supplies of the areas around the Apartheid Wall are of serious
concern. In villages around Qalqiliya and Tulkarem 30 agricultural wells
will be lost in the first phase of the Apartheid Wall. These groundwater
wells are located in the Western Groundwater Basin and were drilled prior to 1967. As a result, Palestinians will lose nearly 18% of their share of the
Western Groundwater Basin.
The uprooting of trees is also an environmental concern. The
first phase of the Apartheid Wall will place between 160,000-180,000 dunums
(39,500-44,500 acres) on the Israeli side of the Apartheid Wall.
Construction of the Apartheid Wall will uproot and shave tens of thousands of
trees. Trees play a major role in preserving the environment and ecological
balance of the area. The various kinds of trees, most notably the olive
tree, are also a basic part of the Palestinian landscape, culture and
By addressing the problems of the environment John hopes to be
able to speak to many Americans that are concerned about the global
environment. As people learn what the State of Israel does to this land they
will also learn what the government of Israel is doing to the people of
Palestine. And then hopefully people will act.
Rice University Media Center
Thursday, May 8, 2003
For more information, call 713.376.2328 or write to mailadchouston.org