Mneizel is a Palestinian village located in Hebron in the West Bank. In 2009, the 400 residents living there were lucky enough to be the recipients of a project funded by the Spanish government to install a solar energy plant. The solar energy project cost 300,000 Euros and is now their sole source of electricity- without it the village; its school and clinic would be plunged into darkness. On the 11th of October, the Israeli authorities issued a demolition order for the solar plant stating that it doesn’t have a permit.
Hebron has been experimenting with the use of solar power for a while now. They launched their own solar car in the summer of 2010 and have been working in Israeli partnerships with Comet-ME to link up to solar power. Indeed, the use of solar power makes huge sense for the sunny city and is a great alternative source of electricity for villages in remote locations. With this in mind, you can see why Al Najah University working with the Spanish government decided to set up a solar plant for the villagers of Mneizel.
“Solar Provides Essential Support”
“The plant provides essential support to the entire village. Families are starting businesses, children can study at night, and for the first time in the village’s history, there is a clinic which can conduct ultrasound examinations twice a week,” Ignacio, a Spanish aid worker operating the solar planet told The Palestine Monitor.
However, Mneizel is located in Area C of the West Bank which is under the control of Israel. As such, every building requires a permit from the Israeli Civil Authority, which it almost never grants and so lots of buildings (like this solar plant) end up in a legal limbo.
Demolition Should Be Last Resort Not ‘Option A’
Demolition orders were due to be carried out on the 18th of October and were only avoided as lawyers from Rabbis for Human Rights presented a complaint to the Israeli courts. Last Thursday was the final deadline for Rabbis for Human Rights to collect all relevant claims and so now the villagers must await a decision from the Israeli Civil Administration.
Personally, I can’t see why the Israeli authorities resort to demolition- if the lack of permit is the real and only issue then surely, the two sides could sit together to sort it out and a fine paid if necessary. Going straight to demolition is such a wasteful, unfair and unproductive solution. Especially when the solar plant is a public building providing energy to the village and not some private enterprise.
: Image via Kyle Taylor/flickr.
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