Sunday, November 29, 2020

Israel turns the lights off on West Bank school

By The Palestine Monitor - August 19, 2017
Section: [Main News] [Life under Occupation] [Features]
Tags: [Education] [E1] [demolition]


On August 9 at about 1pm, officials from the Israeli Civil Administration and border police arrived to the village of Abu Nuwar and confiscated 10 solar panels and 12 batteries from the local primary and nursery school. The equipment, which the village's mukthar Abu Imad Jahalin said was worth ILS 80,000 (about €19,000), had been installed about a month before by an NGO, and paid for with EU funding.

“There was a summer camp and the children were out playing,” recounted resident Ahmad Ibrahim, 45, who has four children attending the school. Israeli forces closed the road leading to the school and declared the surrounding area a closed military zone. “Their faces were so sad as they watched the crane take away the solar panels. They couldn't understand it,” Ibrahim said.

The panels were confiscated despite an injunction issued on the same day by an Israeli court. The equipment, producing clean, green energy for the village, which is not officially connected to the electricity grid, was confiscated on grounds it was built without a license.

The result is that about 80 children will go back to a school this year that won't be able to operate fans, refrigerators, computers, copy machines and other equipment. The panels also served a nearby community centre.
Before and after the confiscation - photos courtesy of Abu Imad Jahalin
Currently, some households in the village receive electricity from a nearby Palestinian town, normally via a single cable that is just enough to turn the lights and TV on, but not to operate high-consumption appliances. Some homes in the village, which are makeshift structures made of wood and corrugated iron, do not have any electricity at all.

According to Abu Imad, all structures in the village, including homes, have pending demolition orders since 2005.

The Abu Nuwar community counts about 650 residents, half of them minors. It's located along the southern boundaries of the “E1 corridor”, an area that lies between the West Bank's largest settlement, Ma'aleh Addumin, and East Jerusalem. The Israeli government has promoted zoning plans for this area, which critics say are aimed at linking Occupied East Jerusalem, which Palestinians see as their future capital, to the mega-settlement. They argue this would effectively cut off East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank and hinder any possibility of a two-state solution.

In 2016 alone, house demolitions in Area C (not including East Jerusalem) left 1,134 people homeless, according to Israeli human rights group B'Tselem.

“If people have services, they will stay here, otherwise they will migrate,” Abu Imad told Palestine Monitor. “And they want us to move from here.”
The Palestinian community of Abu Nuwar and the Israeli settlement of Ma'aleh Addumim on the background
Alongside other communities in this area, the village of Abu Nuwar has been under considerable pressure in the past year. EU-funded water tanks were confiscated, as well as emegency kits and tents provided by European donors after six homes were demolished in the village last year. In addition, a number of locals were revoked their permits to work in the settlements, according to Abu Imad.

This was the third confiscation of solar panels since the beginning of July in communities located in Area C, the sixty percent of the West Bank under full Israeli control. Approximately 325,500 Israeli settlers live there in 125 settlements and about 100 outposts, as well as 180,000 to 300,000 Palestinians, according to Israeli human rights group B'Tselem.

Human rights organisations have long denounced Israeli policies in Area C of the West Bank as constituting “forcible transfer” of Palestinians.

Earlier this summer, Israel confiscated solar panels from two other West Bank villages. Jub a-Dib, south of Bethlehem, saw 96 of its solar panels taken away on June 28. They'd been donated about a year ago by the Dutch government. Over the years, the village filed several requests to the Israeli authorities to be connected to the power grid, but all were rejected on grounds it does not have an outline plan. But when residents filed an outline plan with the Civil Administration, the Israeli military body in charge of civilian matters in the West Bank, that too was rejected.

In July, Israeli forces confiscated two solar panels serving five families, including 15 children, in Khirbet Tall al-Himma, a village in the northern Jordan Valley.

The European Union said in a recent report that there has been an “exceptional upsurge” in demolitions and confiscations of projects funded by the EU or its member states. The total financial loss in 2016 amounts to €557,378.

A report published last year by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor estimated that Israeli policies in Area C, as well as military operations, have “squandered” about about €65 million of EU aid money since 2001 – of which about €23 million was lost during the 2014 assault alone.




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