When people are dying from war, we forget to think about the environment, and that’s totally understandable, but this is a topic we cannot ignore.

Since 9/11, war has destroyed more than half the forests in Afghanistan’s three major provinces. The Gulf War increased air pollution in Baghdad by 705 percent.

In 2009 the United Nations said that we urgently need a new set of international laws to protect the environment during war, but the problem has not been properly addressed yet, and the destruction is continuing.

For example, last Friday I went down to the Gaza border and saw Palestinian protesters launching explosive kites and balloons into Israel. So far, they’ve burned over 7,000 acres of nature reserves, farmland, and forests.

In just a month or two, a forest fire can release as much carbon emission as all the cars and trucks in an entire American state for whole year, and forest fires are usually only about 100 acres.

The fires in Israel have destroyed an area 70 times larger than that.

Protesters are also burning thousands of tires, releasing poisons like dioxins, metals and carbon monoxide into the air and groundwater. This damage will affect the local ecosystem for years and affects both Israelis and Palestinians.

Thousands of animals have already died, including foxes, jackals, and hundreds of turkeys who choked to death from smoke.

The UN already tries to limit the destruction of war through a set of international laws called the 4th Geneva convention. We need a 5th one that protects not only us, but also our environment and the future generations who will live in it for years to come.

Daniel Pomerantz is an attorney and the Senior Editor for HonestReporting.com, a media monitoring NGO based in Jerusalem, Israel. Twitter: @danielspeaksup

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