The effects of war extend far beyond the immediate battlefield. The conflict between Hamas and Israel has taken a devastating toll on human lives, but it has also taken a heavy toll on the environment. The Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated areas in the world, is witnessing ecological destruction and facing alarming environmental threats that threaten the well-being of its residents.
David R. Boyd, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, highlights the dire consequences of Israel’s military operations in Gaza. Environmental impacts include air, water, and soil pollution, loss of biodiversity, toxic pollution, and worsening of the climate crisis, all of which are a direct result of ongoing armed conflicts.
Gaza already faces environmental challenges, including limited access to energy, sanitation, clean water and air, which have been exacerbated by the conflict. As bombs continue to wreak havoc on schools, hospitals and infrastructure, the environmental impact of war is less talked about.
Explosions and combustion of structures release toxic gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere. Dangerously high levels of particulate matter are degrading air quality and contributing to respiratory and cardiovascular disease in people.
Reports by Human Rights Watch and the Washington Post suggest that white phosphorus was used in the conflict, a claim that Israel denies. White phosphorus not only poses an immediate health risk to humans, but also has long-term negative effects on the environment. Studies have shown that the weapon could pollute rivers and affect aquatic life, potentially violating international agreements banning the use of such weapons in civilian areas.
Gaza’s water crisis is a long-standing problem exacerbated by conflict and is causing serious concern among environmental experts. Residents rely heavily on external water sources, and the attacks have damaged or cut off water resources, leaving people in dire straits.
Wastewater management is also a pressing issue, with treatment plants and sewage pumping stations out of commission. Discharging untreated wastewater into the ocean poses a risk of water-related diseases and contamination of groundwater with sewage and hazardous chemicals, resulting in long-term environmental impacts.
The Gaza Strip’s vulnerability to climate change is further heightened by the ongoing conflict. Located in a region experiencing rapid temperature rise, Gaza faces the challenge of responding to climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Destruction caused by the conflict, including damage to rooftop solar power systems that provide electricity, further complicates these efforts.
There is Only One Green Planet by Tiny Rescue: Climate Collection
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