ATT: Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme
Canadian FSWC is calling on Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, to condemn Hamas and the environmental damage the terror group has caused in southern Israel.
Over the last six months, hundreds of incendiary kites and balloons have been launched into Israel from Gaza, resulting in fires destroying more than 2,800 hectares of land, consisting mostly of agricultural land and natural habitats. This has impacted the livelihood of farmers and has resulted in the deaths of thousands of wildlife, with more than 14 per cent of all nature reserves lost to fire in the region bordering the Gaza Strip. Along with destroying animal habitats, Hamas has also used animals to set the fires.
Farmers have reported more than $3 million in damage, and according to ecologists, a full recovery will take years. These fires are not only affecting Israelis, but also Gazans who are relying on the delivery of flour from wheat fields in the burning communities in southern Israel.
These attacks have not stopped, despite several weeks of quiet. Over two weeks ago, more than a dozen fires were sparked in southern Israel by incendiary balloons launched from the Gaza Strip - and these attacks have since continued.
Burning tires on the Israel-Gaza border are also polluting the air with toxins, pushing air pollution beyond acceptable limits. Recent reports state that children living near the border have been suffering from vomiting and shortness of breath due to breathing in these toxic fumes.
Adopted UN General Assembly resolution 47/37, titled “Protection of the environment in times of armed conflict,” notes that “existing provisions of international law prohibit such acts” that cause environmental damage and depletion of natural resources in times of armed conflict.
According to article 35 (3) of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions, “It is prohibited to employ methods or means of warfare which are intended, or may be expected, to cause widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment.”
Considering there are international laws prohibiting the destruction of natural environments in armed conflict, it is extremely disappointing that the organization and member states have remained silent about Hamas’s environmental terrorism.
Therefore, it is imperative for the UN to condemn Hamas’s destructive actions and take all possible steps to end this environmental terrorism along the Israel-Gaza border. We also call on the UN to encourage its agencies operating in Gaza, such as UNRWA, to ask Hamas to stop this environmental destruction.
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