Uri Gnorant of the Israeli Bureau of Land Redemption was eager to see me. “I’m glad you’re here,” he said. “You reporters talk about how little we do for Palestinians. This is a chance to set the record straight. When it comes to environmental protection and conservation, no one could possibly do more than we do.
“Take water, for example. We have reduced Palestinian water consumption to less than a third of what it was in 1967. Nowhere in the world can boast such an accomplishment. Even the Israelis themselves cannot match it. Villages like Beit Furik and Beit Dajan, with a combined population of around 15,000 get by on only 12 tanker loads of water per day during the summer, and sometimes less, supplemented by some filthy ground water for their vegetable gardens. You can’t do better than that.
“Or fire prevention. You remember the terrible Carmel forest fire that we had in 2010? You never see anything like that in Palestinian areas, and this is because we removed a lot of the trees as a preventive measure. Some people say that the Carmel fire was due to the dead non-native European trees that we planted to hide hundreds of Palestinian villages that we destroyed in 1948, and that Palestinian olive and other fruit trees don’t have the same problem. Let me assure you that olive trees also burn, as our settlers have amply demonstrated. The solution is for them to be removed, which is the policy that we have put in place and are diligently pursuing.
“Our protection of the Palestinian marine environment in Gaza is also unmatched. Over the last twenty years, we have progressively put larger and larger areas under protection from fishing, so that now the area available for fishing is less than a fifth of what it used to be, and most of the fish are not in that area, anyway. We can assure you that there will be no overfishing in Palestinian waters!
“There are many other ways that we protect the environment that is exposed to Palestinian abuse. For example, Palestinian women have gathered wild herbs like thyme and sesame for thousands of years on the hills and in the valleys of what used to be called Palestine. We have put a stop to that and made it illegal, so as to protect these plants from further exploitation.
“We also can’t have grazing animals like sheep and goats eating up the natural herbs and grasses in the pastures. If Palestinians want fresh meat, let them buy their feed from Israeli merchants like nature intended, or get frozen meat from New Zealand, which we are happy to sell to the humanitarian organizations that keep Palestinians alive.
“As we know, however, human activity inevitably damages the environment in one way or another, no matter what policies we put in place. Our long term policy is therefore to eliminate as many of the Palestinian people as possible from as many places as possible that are under Israeli control, and also to expand the areas under Israeli control for the same reason.
“As you can see, our commitment to environmental protection of Palestinian land is unshakeable. ”
Settlers setting fire to Palestinian olive groves, ‘Urif, 26.5.2012, Raw footage