By: Maysa’a Bsharat
Wisal Raslan, the environmental activist and chasing environment spoilers
Exclusive to Environment and Development Horizons (Afaq magazine):
Wisal Raslan did not regret even for a moment choosing a difficult path full of troubles and danger, that at some point threatens her own life.
Wisal, a 32 young lady from the town of Budrus, northwest of Ramallah, has been working as an environmental inspector at the Environmental Quality Authority for seven years. She spares no effort in monitoring and documenting violations.
She graduated from An-Najah University with a major in Applied Chemistry. She is always present in the field in the mountains and valleys. Whether it is burning hot or freezing cold, her only concern is to protect the environment and to limit the violations.
Careful and Cautious 24/7
The importance of her work lies in shedding light on the problems and attacks against the Palestinian environment, preventing these violations, in addition to raising the level of awareness and assuring commitment of industrial establishments and individuals for a sustainable, clean and protected environment.
Wisal says: "Every place I visit to monitor violations I feel as if I live in it, and I seek to avoid pollution violations. I cannot accept any form of pollution in the places we live in, so I do not hesitate to pursue those who commit such violations."
While it exhausts her a lot to think of effective solutions to environmental violations and to search for ways to eliminate or reduce them, given the harm they pose to health and the environment.
She adds: "Our work is hard and requires huge efforts, and there are some violations that I deal with that require extreme care, as those dealing with them are powerful and outlaws."
She points to the difficulties she faces while performing her job in dealing with some of those who violate environmental laws, "especially those who smuggle waste from inside the occupied territories of 1948," because dealing with them is sometimes dangerous, "says Wisal.
It is vital that those in charge of this work take caution in order to reach some places and sites where the violation is taking place, she explains: “Most of the sites where environmental violations occur are classified as Area C according to the Oslo Accords (they are under full Israeli civilian and security control), For this type of violations to end, it requires accompaniment by the Israeli police, customs control and security forces. This requires "security coordination", and in most cases the coordination permission is delayed, which delays the completion of the work and thus the violations continue for a longer time. "
Not just a job
The courageous Inspector affirms that she has been subject to threats by those who violate the environmental laws as a result of her reporting of their violations, which makes her life vulnerable, especially from the influential people.
She continues: "I have received calls that explicitly ask me to stop raising complaints about the violations I report. I have also received several direct warnings that in order to stay safe I should stop pursuing my work against the aggressors of the environment."
She confirms that these threats have not and will never stop her from continuing to report the environmental violations that some are doing for the sake of money, taking no consideration to the negative effects on peoples’ lives and the nature in the future.
“Does this cause any source of concern for you?” she answers with a bold and affirmative “No”: “Certainly not, I will continue in the same manner. I am in the field to do my duty sincerely. I will not pay attention to any pressure I receive. Rather, I will go after anyone that violates any law that will eventually negatively affect the environment or people’s lives. I believe that my work is not just a job, and that it is a huge responsibility.”
Globally, “2016 was the worst year for environmental and nature protection activists, during which 200 activists were killed in different regions of the world, including inspectors in nature reserves and national parks. In 2015, 185 environmental activists were killed in 16 countries, while 100 activists were killed in 2017. In 2018, the number of deaths reached 164 (Afaq Environmental Magazine, Issues 98 and 119).
Wisal concludes saying: "Trust in God and my parents' prayers give me strength and makes me more insisting on monitoring and reporting environmental violations."