Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Solar panel demolitions deprive communities in Area C of electricity, Al Haq reports

By Elizabeth Jenkins - March 24, 2018
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [demolition] [Al Haq] [Area C] [permits]

Al Haq’s new report, 'The Sun Belongs to Everyone’, draws attention to how Israel demolishes solar panels funded by the European Union (EU) in Area C, which leaves basic human needs unmet and creates a coercive environment.
Demolitions and confiscations are part of a wider strategy to forcibly transfer Palestinians off their land to make way for settlement expansion.
According to the Oslo Accords, Israel is responsible for infrastructure and civil services in Area C (excluding education and medical services).
However, far from living up to these responsibilities, the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA) manipulates discriminatory rules dating from the British Mandate, rendering the acquisition of building permits practically impossible.
The lack of permits serves as a justification to demolish buildings and infrastructure, such as solar panels.
“[These] communities rely on [solar panels] as the main source of electricity,” Maha Abdallah, a contributor to the report, told Palestine Monitor.
The report notes: “solar energy (…) constitutes a last resort measure to meet basic human needs.”
When the solar panels are confiscated or demolished, the communities are left unable to carry out basic activities, such as heating water. Preserving food and medication becomes extremely difficult.
In nearby settlements, solar panels are used as an alternative – as opposed to the only – energy source. Electric grids are provided for the settlements, but the ICA impedes Palestinian communities from using them, effectively rendering the communities “off-grid”.
The UN, international and local NGOs all agree that these practices are, “restrictive, discriminatory and incompatible with the requirements of international law,” according to the report.
Al Haq documented a significant escalation in confiscation and demolitions in 2016 and 2017. Settlement expansion is an explanation, Abdallah said, as an increase in settlements is ultimately incompatible with the presence of these Palestinian, often Bedouin, communities.
Indeed, on top of the expanded settlements themselves, bypass roads are created to connect them.
In these areas, “[Bedouin] presence is an annoyance and burden to the Israeli occupation,” Abdallah told Palestine Monitor.
Claiming natural resources and using them for the occupying power’s benefit, at the expense of the indigenous population, violates Israel’s obligations as occupying power under international humanitarian law.
The story is also far from new. Regarding water, Abdallah explained that for example, in Umm al-Kheir in the South Hebron Hills, the water pipelines literally pass through the Bedouin community, and yet the inhabitants are forbidden from connecting to them.  
That these solar panels are funded by the EU does not reap the protection one might expect; the report documents demolitions and confiscations have so far cost the European Union 65 million euros.
Political and economic interests restrict European condemnation, Abdallah said, despite some outcry and requests for reparations.
The EU could pressure Israel into allowing farming and zoning systems which are not discriminatory, allowing water and electricity networks to be connected and allowing the construction and development of the already existing schools or medical units.
Such concrete political action would go a lot further than the funding of structures, which Abdallah described as unsustainable band aids which ignore the knife still in the wound.
Lead Photo: Dead Sea power plant. Source: Wikimedia commons. 


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