Israeli Government Moves to Destroy Palestinian Solar Panels

Image: ricketyrus via Flickr/CC BY 2.0

The primary source of electricity for many Palestinians in Israel-controlled West Bank are eight solar arrays that were donated by international NGOs. Those panels replaced the more expensive, less reliable oil generators that communities had previously relied upon.

Now, the Israeli government is claiming that those solar panels were built without a permit, and therefore must evidently be demolished as the nation expands its settlement program.

Here's the Guardian: (my emphasis)

[The town of] Imneizil is not connected to the national electricity grid. Nor are the vast majority of Palestinian communities in Area C, the 62% of the West Bank controlled by Israel ... According to the Israeli authorities, these solar panels – along with six others in nearby villages – are illegal and have been slated for demolition.

The problem for Palestinian communities here is that permission to build any infrastructure is very hard to come by. According to figures from the civil administration ... 91 permits were issued for Palestinian construction in Area C between 2001 and 2007. In the same period, more than 10,000 Israeli settlement units were built and1,663 Palestinian structures demolished.

Clearly, these Palestinians have no hope in obtaining a permit for their only source of power, and severing it is a cruel move. But it is strategic cruelty, experts argue:

One UN expert, speaking anonymously...believes the crackdown on the alternative energy movement by the Israelis is part of a deliberate strategy in Area C. "From December 2010 to April 2011, we saw a systematic targeting of the water infrastructure in Hebron, Bethlehem and the Jordan valley," the source said. "Now, in the last couple of months, they are targeting electricity. Two villages in the area have had their electrical poles demolished."
What better way to degrade a community's quality of life than destroy its only source of power, after all?

"There is this systematic effort by the civil administration targeting all Palestinian infrastructure in Hebron," the UN observer told the Guardian. "They are hoping that by making it miserable enough, they [the Palestinians] will pick up and leave."

Tags: Israel | Solar Power