Geneva - The Gaza Strip is on the verge of an environmental pollution catastrophe, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor warned, as a result of the devastation caused by the Israeli aggression that has been waged against civilians in the blockaded Strip since 7 October 2023.

 

Speaking at the 55th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Euro-Med Monitor called on the Council and its Member States to put pressure on Israel to immediately stop its indiscriminate attacks on the Gaza Strip and to hold it accountable for its crimes and grave violations.

 

Mohammed Al-Maghbat, Director of Euro-Med Monitor’s Regional Office in Beirut, delivered a speech during an interactive dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on the issue of the human rights obligation to provide access to a safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. Thousands of Palestinians are denied these rights, said Al-Maghbat, as they are trapped under the rubble of homes in Gaza—which are frequently being destroyed in relentless Israeli airstrikes, with no prior notice—while their fate remains unknown for weeks at a time.

 

“Israeli indiscriminate attacks have left more than 70% of residential buildings and infrastructure in Gaza in ruins,” he stated, noting that in the midst of this devastation, a major pollution crisis looms on the horizon. Al-Maghbat explained that with Israel cutting off the fuel supply required to treat sewage and waste, the Strip’s streets are now filled with increasing piles of garbage with dire consequences.

 

Contaminated water sources quickly spread diseases, endangering the health and well-being of the Gaza Strip’s more than two million residents, he added.

 

The full text of the speech is provided below.

 

 

Mr President,

 

I’m speaking to you today while my relatives lie trapped under the rubble of their home in Gaza, which was knocked down by Israeli airstrikes without prior warning. As I address you, I don’t know if they are alive or dead. Nearby neighbourhoods share a similar plight, with scores of bodies buried beneath demolished buildings. The Civil Defense struggles to retrieve them, hindered by the overwhelming casualties and the relentless Israeli aerial, artillery, and naval attacks on the blockaded Strip.

 

The destruction wrought by the indiscriminate attacks has left over 70% of Gaza’s residential buildings and infrastructure in ruins. Walking through these decimated streets, one cannot deny that this is not merely a war against a specific faction, but an assault on the entire population of Gaza. 

 

Amidst this devastation, a crisis of pollution looms large. With Israel cutting fuel supplies crucial for sewage and trash treatment, streets are now littered with increasing piles of garbage. The repercussions are dire: Contaminated water sources spread diseases rapidly, endangering the health and well-being of the Strip’s over two million residents.

 

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor and the Global Institute for Water, Environment and Health (GIWEH) thus urgently appeal to the Council and its Member States to pressure Israel to immediately halt its indiscriminate attacks, and to hold it accountable for the heinous crimes and grave violations perpetrated during its large-scale war. Immediate action is imperative to ensure the swift removal of debris, the retrieval of deceased individuals, and the rescue of those still trapped under the rubble.

 

Thank you.