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Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

Israel confiscates solar panels supplying power for Palestinian village


West Bank, (IINA) – Israel has seized solar panels providing power to the Palestinian village of Jub a-Dib, depriving it of all electricity, as the village is not connected to the power grid, B’Tselem reported Monday.

The Palestinian village of Jub a-Dib lies southeast of Bethlehem in the West Bank. It was established in 1929 and is currently home to some 160 people. In the past, residents subsisted on farming and shepherding, but today the village relies mainly on young residents who work in Israel. In addition to homes, the village has a grocery store, a sewing shop, a mosque, and a kindergarten. A mobile medical clinic visits the village once a week.

Israel does not deny the legality of the village but has never drawn up an outline plan for it, as with other Palestinian villages in the West Bank. Israel even rejected a plan prepared by the joint council of Jub a-Dib and the neighbouring village of Za’tara. Since the 1980s, the residents of Jub a-Dib have filed several requests with the Civil Administration to hook the village up to the power grid. All were rejected on the grounds that the village does not have an outline plan.

In 2009, the residents bought three generators with the aid of the Palestinian Authority. However, these suffice only to provide lighting for eight hours a night, are very noisy, and require expensive fuel. The residents requested assistance from several humanitarian organisations to purchase solar panels as an alternative means of generating electricity.

In November 2016, Israeli-Palestinian nonprofit Comet-ME installed 96 solar panels in the village financed by the Dutch government. For the first time, the residents were able to enjoy a constant supply of electricity.

On the morning of 28 June 2017, Israeli military and Civil Administration forces came to the village. Soldiers erected a checkpoint at the main entrance and prevented anyone from entering or leaving. Other forces went over to the solar panels and began dismantling them and placing them in a tow truck. The soldiers also confiscated electronic equipment from the power room.

As the forces were about to leave the village, the head of the village council, Ibrahim al-Wahsh, asked them on what grounds they were confiscating the panels. One of the Civil Administration officials presented him with two cease-work orders � the first for the power room and the second for the stands on which the solar panels were placed. The forces also presented al-Wahsh with two confiscation orders relating to the 96 solar panels, four computer panels, and 12 fuses on the electric panel.

For decades, it has been Israel’s policy to systematically harass Palestinians in many parts of the West Bank in order to encourage them to leave their homes. To that end, Israel makes formalistic use of legal and planning tools it has adopted.

Under the guise of law enforcement, Israel is applying a cruel policy that is inherently immoral and illegal. Israel not only shirks its responsibility to provide Palestinian communities in the West Bank with essential services, but it also thwarts any attempt by the local leadership to attain alternative services via international aid by sending in forces to destroy or confiscate donated equipment.

Source: International Islamic News Agency