Back in November we reported on a solar plant in Hebron that was threatened with demolition orders issued by the Israeli administration. However, diplomatic pressure from the Spanish government which paid for the project helped save the solar panels from destruction. It now appears that a further 6 solar and wind turbine projects in the West Bank, this time funded by the German government, face similar demolition orders.
Israeli authorities are threatening to demolish six of the 16 projects aimed at bringing clean energy to remote villages in the West Bank. They are arguing that the solar panels and wind turbines were installed without permission- yet it is widely acknowledged that Israel tends to refuse permits in area C of the West Bank. This conflict goes to the heart of international criticism of Israel’s control of 62% of the West Bank where more than 300,000 settlers live.
The village of al-Thala, where 80 people lived without electricity in the south of the West Bank is one of the recipients of the solar panels project. German aid group Medico and Comet-ME, a group which has worked hard to bring renewable energy to the West Bank, are working to bring solar and wind power to 30 Palestinian communities.
Elad Orian, a physicist at Comet-ME, told the Associated Press that the group didn’t ask for permits, feeling it would have been futile because Israel considers the communities illegal. He believes demolition is still months away, and hopes political pressure by Germany, which gave more than 400,000 euros ($520,000), will save the projects.
Last month, ‘stop work’ orders were issued by the Israeli authorities for the solar panels and wind turbines in al-Thala and five other communities. Demolition orders have now been issued for four of the projects. According to a new UN report, in the last year alone Israel demolished 622 structures and 222 homes. More than 90 percent of these were in Area C of the West Bank and they displaced more than 1,100 Palestinians, of whom half were children.
: Image via ISM Palestine/flickr.
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