International Middle East Media Center & Steve Hanley / Clean Technica – 2017-07-04 00:48:25
Israel Seizes Dutch-funded Solar Panels in West Bank
International Middle East Media Center
(July 2, 2017) — The Netherlands has reacted with outrage after Israeli authorities seized dozens of solar panels, from a remote occupied West Bank village, that were donated by the Dutch government.
Israeli forces confiscated the solar panels in the isolated village of Jubbet al-Dhib, east of Bethlehem, on Wednesday, that were installed last year, under the pretext that they were built without the nearly-impossible-to-obtain permits required by Israel to develop in Area C — the 61 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli military control.
A report, Saturday, by Israeli news daily Haaretz, cited a statement from the Dutch Foreign Ministry, that said the Dutch government lodged a protest with Israel over the confiscation of the electricity equipment, which was said to be a hybrid power system of both diesel and solar power.
The Dutch government-donated electrification project in the southern Bethlehem region cost about 500,000 euros, 350,00 euros of which went to Jubbet al-Dhib, according to the report.
The Dutch Foreign Ministry has requested Israel return the equipment and is “currently assessing what next steps can be taken,” the ministry’s statement to Haaretz said.
However, according to Haaretz, “A source close to Dutch diplomats in the West Bank told Haaretz that these softly worded statements cover the anger brewing in the government of the Netherlands, a close friend of Israel’s, at the damage to the humanitarian project.”
Ma’an News Agency reported at the time that 60 solar panels were seized, though Haaretz said that in fact 96 panels were taken down, in addition to other electronic equipment of the system that was also seized, which was funded by the Dutch and installed about nine months ago by the Israeli-Palestinian organization Comet-ME, which builds water and energy systems for Palestinians.
According to the report, Comet-ME implemented the project with the assistance of the town’s women’s committee using environmentally and socially sustainable methods.
The mayor of the village said, at the time of the raid, that the solar panels were confiscated as well as destroyed, but Haaretz cited Comet-ME as clarifying that items were taken by Israeli forces intact, while equipment that was not seized was destroyed by Israeli forces and left behind.
The cost of the confiscated and damaged equipment is valued at 40,000 euros, though the material and social damage is “much greater, as their seizure immediately resulted in the loss of power for the 30 families in the village and its public buildings,” Haaretz wrote.
On the day of the raid, a spokesperson for COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible enforcing Israeli policies in the occupied territory, told Ma’an that stop-work orders had been delivered for the equipment, however, according to Haaretz, orders to cease construction and confiscation orders were given to the residents only during the raid itself, and not prior to the raid, “as is required by planning and construction laws.”
“Had orders been given in advance the village and its representatives could have taken administrative or legal action,” the report stressed.
“We emphasize that the village has other electricity sources,” COGAT also told Ma’an at the time. According to Haaretz, this likely refered to “a couple of noisy and polluting generators from aid organizations, which supply power for three hours a day,” which were received after Israel confiscated a solar-powered public lighting system in 2009.
Some 150 Palestinians reside in Jubbet al-Dhib, which is neighbored by the illegal Noqedim settlement — home to Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman — as well as the illegal El David settlement, in addition a number of Israeli outposts, that, despite being illegal even under Israeli domestic law, still enjoy connection to the power grid and access to other infrastructure, according to Haaretz.
Meanwhile, all Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are considered illegal under international law.
“In order to contribute in reducing the suffering of the people of the village, help them to stay in their lands by protecting it from the ambitions of the Israeli occupation to confiscate it, the idea of using solar technology to light up the village streets, as well as lighting the village gathering center (the mosque) was considered,” ARIJ wrote in a village profile in 2010.
However, Israeli authorities have continued to refuse to grant a license for the project, forcing residents and NGOs to carry on with the solar panel installation without Israeli permission.
“The Israeli civil administration’s decision not to grant a license to implement the project of solar energy technology in Jubbet al-Dhib village means depriving the Palestinian residents of their most simple human rights of access to the most basic rights such as: education, health, the right to work, and the sense of humanity,” the report said.
ARIJ affirmed that the Israeli restrictions represented a violation of international human rights law and “confirms the continuation of Israeli policy towards Palestinians to increase their suffering by causing people to leave their homes, and controls Palestinian lands in order to expand Israeli settlements.”
“This policy does not only include Jubbet al-Dhib village, but almost ten Palestinian villages, which suffer from the lack of services and development projects,” the group wrote at the time.
More than 300 structures demolished by Israeli authorities in 2016 were erected with support of international organizations or with the financial help of the European Union, according to an Israeli military official cited in a report by Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post.
The official told The Jerusalem Post that a new procedure was put in force in 2016, which allows Israeli authorities to demolish a structure built without Israeli permits within 60 days of its construction without legal proceedings.
In 2016, Palestinians experienced the highest number of Israeli demolitions recorded in a year since rights groups began recording the incidents.
Israel Seizes Solar Panels Provided
To A Palestinian Village By The Netherlands
Steve Hanley / Clean Technica
(July 3rd, 2017) — Last year, the government of the Netherlands donated about â‚¬500,000 to bring reliable electricity from solar panels to the southern Bethlehem region. Under ordinary circumstances, the Palestinian villages in the area are not connected to a reliable electrical grid and struggle to make do with about 3 hours a day of electricity supplies by diesel generators donated by various aid organizations after Israel dismantled a solar microgrid in 2009.
â‚¬350,000 of that money went to provide a combination diesel generator and microgrid composed of solar panels for Jubbet ad-Dib, a small community of 150 people. It is located east of Bethlehem in Area C, which is composed of the 61% of the West Bank under the exclusive control of the Israeli military.
According to the Ma’an News Agency, 60 solar panels were seized. However, Haaretz, a highly regarded Israeli daily newspaper, put the number of panels confiscated at 96. The Jubbet ad-Dib microgrid was constructed under the auspices of Comet-ME (Community, Energy, and Technology — Middle East), an Israeli-Palestinian partnership that builds water and energy systems for Palestinians. Comet-ME implemented the project with the assistance of the town’s women’s committee using environmentally and socially sustainable methods.
Solar Energy & Empowerment Of Women
Empowering women while bringing solar power to underserved regions of the Middle East is the objective of several NGOs working in the area. In southern Lebanon, a group of female entrepreneurs worked with Greenpeace to install a solar microgrid in their town. The electricity it provides allows the women to operate a cooperative that makes rosewater, apple vinegar, orange sauce, apricot jam, crackers, and tomato paste without artificial preservatives.
The women were assisted by volunteers from Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria. Daad Ismail, President of the women’s cooperative, says, “Electricity shortages have hurt our productivity, our working hours, and our personal lives. We know that solar energy will not only help us to cut bills, generate more income, and improve our lives, it will also broaden our horizons with new opportunities.”
Israeli Settlements Nearby Have Grid Access
Near Jubbet ad-Dib are several Israeli settlements classified as illegal under Israeli and international law that all enjoy full access to a stable electrical grid plus other amenities such as Internet access. Those settlements include Noqedim, home to Israeli defense minister Avigdor Lieberman, the El David settlement, and a number of Israeli outposts, according to Haaretz.
Dutch Government Is Furious
The government of the Netherlands is incensed at the high-handed way Israel has acted in this regard. It has asked for the return of the confiscated solar panels and filed a stern protest with the Israeli government. The panels are claimed to be worth about â‚¬40,000, but the government forces also destroyed all the electronics that made the microgrid operable.
The removal of the panels and destruction of the electronics were justified by authorities on the ground that the system did not have the required permit. That is undoubtedly true, since Israeli authorities have refused to grant any such permits for Palestinians since 2009.
The Dutch are reported to be considering their next move. Israel and the Netherlands have enjoyed a close relationship until this incident, but that may be about to change. The damage is far greater that the cost of the solar panels, says Haaretz, “as their seizure immediately resulted in the loss of power for the 30 families in the village and its public buildings.”
Gobbledy Gook From Israeli Authorities
Taking a page from the Donald Trump double-speak playbook, COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for enforcing Israeli policies in the occupied territory, told Ma’an News Agency that a stop-work order had been issued. But Haaretz reports that order was delivered during the raid itself, not prior to it “as is required by planning and construction laws.”
Going on: “Had orders been given in advance, the village and its representatives could have taken administrative or legal action.” COGAT responded: “We emphasize that the village has other electricity sources,” meaning it can continue to operate on electricity supplied 3 hours a day by diesel generators.
The Arab World Sees It Differently
Not surprisingly, the Arab Reporters For Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) see things in a completely different light. “In order to contribute in reducing the suffering of the people of the village, help them to stay in their lands by protecting it from the ambitions of the Israeli occupation to confiscate it, the idea of using solar technology to light up the village streets, as well as lighting the village gathering center (the mosque) was considered,” ARIJ wrote in a village profile in 2010.
“The Israeli civil administration’s decision not to grant a license to implement the project of solar energy technology in Jubbet ad-Dib village means depriving the Palestinian residents of their most simple human rights of access to the most basic rights such as: education, health, the right to work, and the sense of humanity,” the Haaretz report concluded
ARIJ argues that the Israeli restrictions represented a violation of international human rights law and “confirms the continuation of Israeli policy towards Palestinians to increase their suffering by causing people to leave their homes, and controls Palestinian lands in order to expand Israeli settlements. This policy does not only include Jubbet ad-Dib village, but almost ten Palestinian villages, which suffer from the lack of services and development projects.”
The Jerusalem Post quotes an Israeli military source as saying more than 300 structures erected with support of international organizations or with the financial help of the European Union were demolished by Israeli authorities in 2016, the highest number since various human rights groups began collecting data on such incidents.
The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has been going on for more than 70 years. In many of its official actions, the government of Israel has acted in a way that differs only in degree, not in concept, from the treatment of Jews by the Nazi regime.
One would think a nation founded after the horrors of the Holocaust would be particularly sensitive to how it treats others. But history shows the urge to oppress, dehumanize, and subjugate those with less political power is a human characteristic that spans societies and cultures.
This mean-spirited example may be small, but it indicates Israel has learned nothing from history other than how to oppress other people in the same manner as its people were oppressed. How it could possibly object to solar power replacing electricity made from burning diesel fuel is incomprehensible and the sort of thing one might expect from a petty tyrant rather than a nation that claims to have an advanced and evolved citizenry.
The world cannot expect to make progress on curbing carbon emissions when such petty squabbling is the norm for human relations.
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