Anyone who’s driven through the so-called “West Bank” has no doubt witnessed a pile of car tires being burned, sending billows of heavy black smoke into the air.
It’s a mainstay of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And it plays well on mainstream international media footage.
Oddly enough, the ultra-liberal set (both in Israel and abroad) that typically champions both the Palestinian cause and environmental protection seems to have very little to say about this particular practice.
Israel as a nation, however, is firmly dedicated to the health of the environment, and has repeatedly tried to get the international community to call out the Palestinians regarding this individual infraction, even if it ignores all the others.
The greatest outcry from Jerusalem against these acts of mass pollution came in the summer of 2018, when Hamas stockpiled tens of thousands of tires on the border of the Gaza Strip to be set alight by a mob of angry Palestinian demonstrators.
“The burning of tires in such a huge quantity will cause severe damage to the ecosystem in the area, will severely harm the life, the flora, and health of the residents, and will add to the severe damage to the aquifer and lead to unprecedented air pollution,” wrote Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), in an urgent letter to World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom.
Mordechai pleaded with Adhanom “as the head of an international organization whose goal is to promote health and protect natural and environmental resources, to do everything in your power to publicly warn against this ecological catastrophe.”
Apologists for the Palestinian “struggle” claimed that tires were burned on the Gaza border in order to obscure the view of Israeli snipers. But they failed to address the fact that Palestinian demonstrators burn tires all the time, in every corner of the land, including just last week in the West Bank town of Kfar Qaddum, where the old Palestinian man in the above photo is seen standing triumphantly in front of a toxic rubber smoke cloud.
International law expert Alan Baker, a former Israeli ambassador to Canada, explained in a 2018 article that “the smoke tactic pollutes and poisons the environment and atmosphere in utter disregard of the major concerns of the international community over environmental protection, as expressed in international treaties and resolutions of various bodies involved in protecting the environment.”
But Baker was even more perturbed by the lack of an international response from those who will then turn around and cry foul over an American family driving a gas-guzzling SUV.
“While, clearly, the Palestinian leadership pays no regard to such environmental and ecological norms, what is no less instructive is the fact that no international leader or organization, environmental or other, has found it necessary to relate to these violations of international law,” he wrote.
As with so many other aspects of the Middle East conflict, the world seems to be giving the Palestinians a pass on something for which it would normally chastise the offending party.