Palestinian Liberation Through the Lens of Environmental Justice

Environmental justice strives for universal protection from adverse public health hazards and equal access to natural resources. There is no climate justice without human rights. Thus, climate advocates bear a social responsibility to support Palestinian liberation. The struggle for Palestinian liberation has been directly linked to the control of natural land and resources. Israeli occupation limits Palestine’s access to water and land, exacerbating scarce resources that are already overstressed by the global climate crisis. Israel’s exploitation of natural resources violates the core tenet of environmental justice: land and water are inherent human rights. The Earth is not a commodity to be bought and sold for profit. Yet, the privatization of natural resources is highly normalized and promoted. Society’s path-dependence on ecological exploitation–evidenced by even selling of bottled water–promotes a view that fundamental human needs should be subjected to market forces for private profit. Marx’s commodity fetishism applies to sustainability: in viewing land as property, the fetishization of money supplants humans from their natural rights and amplifies social inequity. Israel perpetuates climate injustice as the country diverts Palestine’s natural resources to prop up its own industries and economy. Land confiscation, militant pollutants, bombardment, and more have impacted Palestinians’ ability to maintain their social well-being, health, and ecological rights. 

Since October 7th, 2023, with over 33,000 Palestinian lives taken by Israel, complete socio-ecological recovery would span generations even in the event of a ceasefire. Currently, 97% of water is unsuitable for consumption, more than 281,000 tons of carbon dioxide have been released by Israeli bombardment, and 100,000 cubic meters of untreated sewage is discharged into the Mediterranean Sea daily. Gaza’s future is overshadowed by poisoned waters, depleted resources, and deteriorated landscapes. On top of intergenerational poverty and trauma, the effort to restore pre-war resources will be demanding, and failure to obtain environmental justice will only deepen Palestinian suffering. 

Palestinian liberation is integral to climate advocacy’s broader mission of creating a more just and sustainable world. As seen with commodity fetishism, the Western perspective suggests a belief in human superiority over the environment, where natural resources can be controlled and privatized. Instead, humans are inseparable from the Earth, sharing great interconnectivity and interdependence with the natural world. Humanity has the ethical responsibility to coexist with and cultivate the environment. Beyond the war itself, occupation remains detrimental to climate justice, for there is no climate justice on occupied land.

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