We call upon Mr. Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the UN Environmental Programme, to condemn Hamas and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip for causing severe environmental damage to southern Israel.
When these devices touch down in Israel they leave a deadly path in their wake. Local wildlife are either killed or forced to flee their native habitats. Forests and farmland have been ravaged. And the livelihood of the thousands of farmers who have committed their lives to turning what was once desert into an oasis has been shattered.
In the past 3 months, over 900 flaming kites and balloons sent from Gaza burned more than 7,400 acres of land in Israel. Sign this petition and call on the United Nations to condemn Hamas’ environmental crimes. #EcoCrimes #CondemnHamas https://t.co/I6DqR7joVy— WJC (@WorldJewishCong) July 19, 2018
Thus far, 900 flaming kites and balloons have been deployed across the border, leading to more than 750 fires –an average of eleven per day. Not only has the cost of damage exceeded $3 million, but it will take years to reverse the ecological damage caused by Hamas.
Both the United Nations Resolutions and International Humanitarian Law expressly prohibit the destruction of the natural environment in armed conflict, and yet the international community has remained silent as Hamas wages environmental warfare that endangers civilians, wildlife, and ravages the natural beauty and resources of Israel's southern region.
In May 2016, the Environment Assembly of the United Nations Environment Programme reaffirmed UN General Assembly resolution 47/37 entitled “Protection of the environment in armed conflict” which stressed “that destruction of the environment, not justified by military necessity and carried out wantonly, is clearly contrary to existing international law”.
Article 35 (3) of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions states: “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.”
The International Committee of the Red Cross regards these obligations as customary international law. Based on the texts of these statutes, it is evident that Hamas has intentionally committed environmental damage, possibly amounting to war crimes.
Therefore, the World Jewish Congress calls on the UN Environmental Programme and Director Solheim to condemn these acts and use all necessary measures at their disposal to ensure that these illegal actions cease immediately.
Hamas intentionally violates international environmental law and should be held accountable for the damage caused by their actions in Israel.