Statement on the UNEP Assessment on Environmental Damage in Gaza

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The report reveals that ongoing conflict has severely impacted Gaza’s energy, water, sanitation, and waste management systems, leading to dire consequences for human health and long-term recovery. The destruction of infrastructure and environmental degradation exacerbates the already critical humanitarian crisis, underscoring the need for urgent and comprehensive action.

CIEL stands in solidarity with the people of Gaza and the global community in demanding an immediate and permanent ceasefire. The targeting of civilians, indiscriminate attacks, forced displacement, and other violations of international humanitarian and human rights law must end. The blockade of Gaza must be lifted to ensure equal rights and dignity for all individuals under the law.

The UNEP report highlights the urgent need to restore Gaza’s environmental health, which is only possible with an end to a war that dehumanizes and escalates violence against Palestinian people. Contaminated water supplies, inadequate sanitation, and the destruction of agricultural lands pose severe and potentially lasting risks to public health. The complete decimation of basic infrastructure dramatically increases near-term risks from infectious disease, as well as near-and long-term risks from toxic exposures, including toxic releases from munitions themselves. The decimation of arable land contributes to the ongoing famine while undermining the population’s ability to feed itself over the longer term. Immediate measures are required to address these environmental challenges, including the provision of clean water, proper waste management, and the rehabilitation of damaged ecosystems. And the utter destruction of both built and natural environments essential to sustaining life and livelihoods must be viewed in the wider context of–and as a constituent element of–the war crimes and ongoing genocide that have been widely and rightly condemned by the international community.

There can be no sustainable peace without addressing the root causes of environmental destruction and human rights violations. The Right to a Healthy Environment, as recognized under international law, and indeed all human rights must be protected and upheld for all people in Gaza and beyond. CIEL calls on the international community to hold all parties accountable for violations of international law and to ensure the protection of human rights. We demand an end to Western arms support to Israel and accountability for complicity in violations of international law. Humanitarian aid and assistance must be allowed unimpeded access to the population of Gaza to address the immediate needs and support long-term recovery.

Immediate action is essential to ensure compliance with international legal standards, halt military assaults, and facilitate the rebuilding of Gaza’s critical infrastructure. The intimidation of international judicial bodies, such as the International Criminal Court, must cease, and efforts to obstruct accountability or undermine the rule of law must be condemned.

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