Children walk amongst the rubble

Children walk amongst the rubble during the Eid al-Adha celebrations in Gaza on June 15, 2024.

(Photo: Khames Alrefi/Middle East Images/AFP via Getty Images)

Amid Carnage and Ecological Damage, Greenpeace Demands Gaza Cease-Fire

"We call for the bullets and bombs to be silenced so that the growing voices for peace can be heard," said the group.

As part of its quest for "a green and peaceful future," Greenpeace International on Tuesday urged the Israeli government and Hamas to "unequivocally agree to support and abide by" a recent United Nations Security Council resolution and declare "an immediate and permanent cease-fire" in the Gaza Strip.

"We call for the bullets and bombs to be silenced so that the growing voices for peace can be heard," the environmental advocacy group said in a statement that acknowledges "the horrific events" of October 7—in which Hamas-led militants killed more than 1,100 people in Israel and took around 240 hostages—and the over 37,000 Palestinians who Israeli forces have slaughtered since.

In addition to the rising death toll and at least 85,523 Palestinians injured by the war, "the majority of Gaza's 2.3 million people have been forced to flee their homes," Greenpeace highlighted. "Much of Gaza has been reduced to rubble, famine and disease are rife, nowhere and no one is safe. Sanity and humanity must be restored in the face of this unfolding genocide."

"Beyond the urgent need to end the civilian suffering and ecological devastation, all parties must resume peaceful negotiations."

The organization pointed to South Africa's genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice as well as a U.N. commission's report from last week that concludes the Israeli government and Palestinian militants have committed war crimes.

"We call on Hamas to immediately release all hostages," Greenpeace said. "We call for the Israeli government to immediately end the blockades on the supply of food, water, medicine, and fuel to the people of Gaza and release all illegally detained civilians."

"Violence is never the answer, it only brings more violence," the group emphasized. "Beyond the urgent need to end the civilian suffering and ecological devastation, all parties must resume peaceful negotiations towards a lasting peace built on safety, justice, and equal rights for all. International law must be upheld."

The United States and European countries that are arming Israel have faced international pressure to use their leverage to halt crimes by its forces. Greenpeace called for "a global embargo on all arms sales and transfers that could be used to further increase the toll of war crimes to be answered by both sides once this war and conflict ends."

"Greenpeace recognizes the deep historic roots that need to be discussed and negotiated if a permanent peace is to be established," the group said. "Greenpeace calls for an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine. Greenpeace supports the UNSC resolution ambition that 'Israel and Palestine live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders, consistent with international law and relevant U.N. resolutions."

The Greenpeace statement was released the same day that the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) published a preliminary assessment of the "environmental impact of the conflict in Gaza," which features three main sections. The first part addresses the state of the environment and natural resources in the Hamas-governed enclave before October 7.

The second section discusses topics including water, wastewater treatment, and sewage systems; solid waste collection and treatment; destruction of infrastructure and related debris; energy, fuel, and associated infrastructure; marine and coastal environments; terrestrial ecosystems, soil, and cultivated lands; and air pollution.

The third section focuses on chemicals and waste associated with armed conflicts as well as construction, destruction, and flooding of tunnels in Gaza—which, as the report notes, "is a small, densely populated coastal area, the environment of which has been affected by repeated escalations of the decadeslong conflict, unplanned urbanization, and population growth."

"We urgently need a cease-fire to save lives and restore the environment."

Inger Andersen, UNEP's executive director, said in a statement that "not only are the people of Gaza dealing with untold suffering from the ongoing war, the significant and growing environmental damage in Gaza risks locking its people into a painful, long recovery."

"While many questions remain regarding the exact type and quantity of contaminants affecting the environment in Gaza, people are already living with the consequences of conflict-related damage to environmental management systems and pollution today," she continued. "Water and sanitation have collapsed. Critical infrastructure continues to be decimated. Coastal areas, soil, and ecosystems have been severely impacted."

"All of this is deeply harming people's health, food security, and Gaza's resilience," Andersen added. "We urgently need a cease-fire to save lives and restore the environment, to enable Palestinians to start to recover from the conflict and rebuild their lives and livelihoods in Gaza."

The UNEP report and Greenpeace's statement followed a study that was posted to SSRN earlier this month and is currently under peer review. Ben Neimark, a co-author of the preprint and lecturer at Queen Mary University of London, said that "while the world's attention is rightly focused on the humanitarian catastrophe, the climate consequences of this conflict are also catastrophic."

As Common Dreams reported, Neimark's team estimated that up to 200,000 Gaza buildings were destroyed or damaged during just the first four months of the war, and the resulting climate costs were greater than the annual emissions of each of the world's 135 lowest-emitting countries.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.