The Guardian has reported Israel’s plans to demolish solar panels in Imneizil in Area C of the West Bank. The two €30,000 panels, constructed by Spanish NGO Seba in 2009, have been labelled “illegal” by Israeli authorities due to building work carried out without a permit.
This follows our report at the end of last month of German sponsored solar instalments suffering the same treatment in Area C. Comet-ME and Israeli pro-peace scientists said obtaining building permits was virtually impossible. Six other energy systems built by the group in Hebron have also received demolition orders. Rabbis for Human Rights and the German foreign office have launched a diplomatic offensive in an attempt to save the villages.
“In technical terms it's do-able, but it depends on Israeli policies,” says Elad Orian, Comet-ME's founder. “Power is a human right, like housing and education,” he says. “We deal with providing basic energy services. Renewable energy provides the best route to do it.”
According to figures quoted in the Guardian, pressure group Peace Now claims only 91 permits were issued for Palestinian construction in Area C between 2001 and 2007. Conversely, 10,000 Israeli settlement units were built and 1,663 Palestinian structures were demolished.
The 62% of the West Bank controlled by Israel is not connected to the national energy grid. On the other hand, the Jewish settlements in the region are connected to national energy and water grids. The Guardian report states Imneizil has a further nine demolition orders on other structures, including a toilet block and water cistern at a school.
The Guardian continues: “The green energy solution has its flaws. At a cost of around US$4,500 per family, it is expensive. Nor does it generate enough electricity to sustain a community.”
Guy Inbar, spokesperson for the Israeli authorities in the West Bank makes an attempt at justifying the situation: “International aid is an important component in improving and promoting the quality of life of the Palestinian population but this does not grant immunity for illegal or uncoordinated activity.”
An anonymous UN expert told the Guardian that, “from December 2010 to April 2011, we saw a systematic targeting of the water infrastructure in Hebron, Bethlehem and the Jordan valley. Now, in the last couple of months, they are targeting electricity. Two villages in the area have had their electrical poles demolished.
“There is this systematic effort by the civil administration targeting all Palestinian infrastructure in Hebron. They are hoping that by making it miserable enough, they [the Palestinians] will pick up and leave.”
Research conducted by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs last year, claims ten out of 13 Palestinian communities in Area C left as a result of Israeli policies. Ali Mohamed Hraizat, head of Imneizil's village council, fears that if the solar panels are destroyed, his community will see an exodus.