Climate Change Is Going to Hit Palestine Particularly Hard

Israel just made it through a brutal, record-breaking heat wave. Temperatures hit 105 degrees Fahrenheit in Tel Aviv, 98 degrees in Jerusalem, and 113 degrees in Jericho. The government had to lift the requirement for masks and suspend many schools yet again, just after post-coronavirus reopenings. The scorching temperatures caused
record electricity usage. Wildfires broke out in the south of the country. The elderly suffered heatstroke, and three people died. This all happened in May: the fifth-hottest month of the year in Israel.

The climate crisis is coming hard and fast for the entire Middle East. Israel will see its summer extended by two months, and temperatures will reach 122 degrees. Precipitation will decrease by as much as 25 percent, a terrifying jump in water scarcity for an already arid region. And while there will be less precipitation overall, when it falls, it will come in storms, causing floods, storm surges, and heavy infrastructure damage. But in a pattern likely to play out throughout the world, these disasters will not be felt equally, across all sectors of society. Instead, by and large, Palestinians will face the worst of the region’s many coming climate disasters.

“We have quite good knowledge of how the climate will evolve in the region,” Assaf Hochman, a climate researcher at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, told me. In coming years, Israel will see streams go dry, more forest fires, more invasive species, and an increased risk of disease outbreak, both infectious and vector-borne. The cost of agriculture will rise due to crop deterioration; increased pest spread; and damage from storms, floods, and droughts. “It’s not an exaggeration that it will be unsafe to go outside in the summer. And the political context in the region is making it difficult to adapt.”

Research by Michael Mason, the Director of the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics, shows that Israeli and Palestinian reports on climate change have almost entirely ignored climate change’s role as a threat multiplier in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—and the conflict’s role as a threat multiplier in the climate crisis. But there’s ample research showing that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will make the impacts of the climate crisis more severe. Specifically, the Israeli military occupation is already exacerbating climate-related resource shortages for Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Golan Heights.

“Even though climate change is indiscriminate in the way it treats territory, the human effects of policy mean that Israelis and Palestinians will experience the effects of climate change in hugely disproportionate ways,” Zena Agha, policy analyst at Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network, told me. “The Israeli government presides over a stratified system of rights and access.”

This stratified system plays out the most clearly in the case of water. Per the Oslo Accords, 80 percent of joint water aquifer resources in Palestine are designated for Israeli use; Israeli settlers, independent Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq estimated in a 2013 report, consume six times as much water as the West Bank’s 2.9 million Palestinian residents. Israel controls water in the West Bank through the Joint Water Committee, which Human Rights Watch says has a track record of confiscating equipment and denying permits to Palestinians who want to construct water infrastructure.

Matters are worse in the Gaza Strip, where 97 percent of water is unfit for human consumption and contaminated water is the leading cause of child deaths. The Israeli military controls what resources go in and out of the Gaza Strip—and many essential items for building water infrastructure are considered dangerous materials and prohibited. Increased water scarcity in Gaza could be fatal for many.

Water isn’t the only natural resource affected by Israeli occupation. Israel’s military prevents residents in the Gaza Strip from using the land next to Israel’s militarized fence, which makes up 20 percent of Gaza’s arable land. Explosives dropped on Gaza in 2014 damaged soil and reduced agricultural productivity. In the West Bank and Golan Heights, Israeli military and settlers have uprooted and burned 800,000 olive trees in the process of seizing land for new settlements. Israelis, too, have seen already vulnerable farmland destroyed by fire kites sent from Gaza.

The post Climate Change Is Going to Hit Palestine Particularly Hard appeared first on Al-Shabaka.

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Zena Agha | Radio Free (2021-11-28T11:17:48+00:00) » Climate Change Is Going to Hit Palestine Particularly Hard. Retrieved from https://www.radiofree.org/2020/06/03/climate-change-is-going-to-hit-palestine-particularly-hard/.
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» Climate Change Is Going to Hit Palestine Particularly Hard | Zena Agha | Radio Free | https://www.radiofree.org/2020/06/03/climate-change-is-going-to-hit-palestine-particularly-hard/ | 2021-11-28T11:17:48+00:00
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