For Palestinians, displacement and dispossession goes back to 1948 with al-Nakba (catastrophe in Arabic), when zionist militias expelled 750,000 Palestinians from their homelands in order to establish the state of Israel. Today, the Israeli government and a number of NGOs use environmental projects as a form of continued “green colonialism.”
National parks as land grabs
The Israeli government uses national parks, forests, and nature reserves to justify ethnic cleansing and land grabs. Today, 182 Palestinian villages depopulated by Israel are concealed in Israeli parks and forests, preventing refugees from returning.
For example, after the unlawful annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967, the Israeli Government established five national parks, stripping Palestinians of the right to cultivate or build on their land. In contrast, laws passed by Israel in 2018 enable construction of Israeli settlements inside some national parks in East Jerusalem – settlements which are illegal under international law.
Destruction of ancient olive trees
Over the last 30 years, Israeli forces and settlers have uprooted around 2.5 million olive trees in the occupied West Bank as part of land grabs to make way for illegal Israeli settlements.
For Palestinians, olive trees represent an ancient connection to land and culture. Palestine has some of the world’s oldest olive trees, dating back to 4,000 years. Olive oil and olives remain a principal agricultural output, with most families growing a number of trees on private land, some of which have been in families for generations.
In any context, the removal of trees is directly linked to irreversible climate change, soil erosion, and a reduction in crops. According to the International Olive Council, the olive tree absorbs 11 kg of CO2 per liter of olive oil produced.