Oil Spill Disaster, Lebanon – Forest fires, Israel and Lebanon

Oil Spill Disaster,Lebanon

Forest fires, Israel and Lebanon

24 August 2006

published by http://www.foeeurope.org/activities/oil_spill_lebanon/index.htm

Reportby Friends of the Earth, Europe
Extractof Update of 24 August 2006


Catastrophe in the midst of a tragedy

Thewar in Lebanon between Israel and the Lebanese Muslim Shiite group Hizbullahbegan on 12th July 2006. By the time a shaky ceasefire halted the fighting fiveweeks later on 14th August, more than 1,200 people had been killed and thousandsmore injured on both sides of the border. In addition to the human tragedy, theenvironment in the Middle East took numerous blows. Friends of the Earth isalarmed at the humanitarian and environmental crises in the region. We call fora just and peaceful solution of the conflict, to prevent more losses of innocentlives and the destruction of the environment in Lebanon and Israel.

Forest fires in Israel and Lebanon

In the current dry heat of the MiddleEast summer, forests are particularly vulnerable. In Israel, large forest areasin the Galilee have been burnt down due to missiles fired by Hizbullah. Israeliauthorities estimate that 9,000 acres of land, including about 3,000 acres offorest, have been damaged by fire in the first four weeks of cross-borderfighting. About half a million trees were destroyed. Firemen, aided by planesspraying fire retardant on the fires, have battled almost 500 fires.


The forests hit hardest by theHizbullah rocket attacks are in Biria, Beit Keshet, Shlomi, Meron and in theNaftali mountain range. Israeli experts have predicted that it may take thedamaged forests up to 60 years to recover to the state they were in before thewar. Across theborder in southern Lebanon, forest fires also raged after Israeli planes andartillery bombed areas they say harbored Hizbullah missile launchers.


Should the current ceasefire hold, NGOslike the Lebanese Association for Forest Development and Conservation (AFDC)will carry out an in-depth assessment of the situation. AFDC said that areaswhere it has carried out “Forest for Peace Projects” have been subjectto massive bombing and most have witnessed fires.


Friends of the Earth demand:


  • A Post-Conflict Branch (PCoB) team of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) should be sent to Lebanon and Israel to assess the environmental damage as a consequence of the war. Investigation is needed underwater and on the beaches along the affected coastlines as well as on the ground
  • A massive oil cleanup operation of Lebanon’s and Syria’s sea beds and coastlines must start as soon as possible
  • Equipment, logistical support and expertise should be provided by the EU and UNEP to the Lebanese authorities and local NGOs – Lebanese NGOs and volunteers are ready to work on the ground and help clean up the oil-polluted beaches, but they don’t yet have the necessary equipment
  • Sustainable reforestation projects should take place in Israel and Lebanon


 Photos demonstrate damage caused by forest fires in Israel


  Forest fire in northern Israel
Above: Forest fire in northern Israel

  Forest fire in northern Israel
Above: Forest fire in northern Israel  

  Forest fire in northern Israel
Above: Forest fire in northern Israel

  Forest fire in northern Israel
Above: Forest fire in northern Israel

  Map showing forest fires hotspots in Israel
Above: Map showing forest fires hotspots in Israel


Friends of the Earth Europe campaigns for sustainable and fair societies and for the protection of the environment, unites more than 30 national organisations with thousands of local groups and is part of the world’s largest grassroots environmental network, Friends of the Earth International.




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