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Saturday, 12 August 2017

The Dutch Gamble – Israel Destroys Solar Panels Because Electricity Might Encourage The Palestinians to Stay on Their Land

The destruction of solar panels that the Dutch government funded in the village of Jubbet Adh-Dhib, is but a small example of the cruelty and ingrained racism of the Israeli military occupation.

Israel’s pretext is that the villagers didn’t have a permit.  Why you might ask should there be a need for a permit for electricity anyway?  The settlers don’t need permits.  On the contrary every illegal outpost is connected to the mains grid.

The real reason is that village is in Area C, an area which Israel hopes to depopulate prior to annexation.  It doesn’t want Palestinians living there and therefore it follows a consistent policy of destroying buildings, schools, development projects etc.  It is a way of ‘encouraging’ the Palestinians to leave the area.

Of course the Palestinians who live here have lived here for centuries, unlike the Jewish settlers.  The difference is, of course, that the settlers are acting with the authority of the Israeli government.  Permits are therefore routinely denied to Palestinians whereas Jewish settlers receive them as a matter of course.

Just one more example of Israel’s racist occupation, which is otherwise known as the ‘most moral occupation’ in the world!

Tony Greenstein

Dutch Protest Israeli Seizure of Palestinian Solar Panels They Funded in West Bank

Netherlands' Foreign Ministry requested Israel return equipment it confiscated, valued at over 40,000 euro; Israel failed to hand out demolition orders in advance
  
Amira Hass Jul 05, 2017 1:15 AM

Palestinian solar panels confiscated by Israel in West Bank village of Jubbet Adh-Dhib, June 2017. Comet-ME
The Dutch officials who signed off on a contribution of half a million euros ($590,000) for the Israeli-Palestinian organization Comet-ME for an ecological electricity project in Palestinian villages (in the West Bank’s Area C) knew that the project was being carried out without a permit from the Israeli occupation authorities.

They decided to take a risk on the assumption that their country has a gentleman’s agreement with Israel: We, the Dutch, won’t bug you about your methodical breaches of international law and the settlements; we might wag our finger but we’ll continue our excellent economic, cultural, scientific and social ties with you. In exchange for our unending patience, you’ll close your eyes in a friendly way and allow us to finance a humanitarian project.

Most of the Dutch contribution, 350,000 euros, was invested in the village of Jubbet Adh-Dhib, east of Bethlehem. The village has been asking to be connected to the electricity grid since 1988. The Civil Administration refused. Since November 2016, when Comet-ME completed installation of a micro-grid, the village – with its 31 homes and 160 residents, a kindergarten, a mosque, five small businesses and a mobile clinic that arrives once a week – has enjoyed electricity.

For eight months, the Dutch officials could conclude that their gamble had paid off. Reports from the village were encouraging: Health and hygiene improved thanks to refrigeration to store food and medicines, a sense of security and safety was provided by night lighting, people could be more active during the day, especially children doing their homework; their school achievements improved thanks to computers that worked, women could work less hard thanks to electrical appliances.

Instead of noisy, polluting, costly generators that the people of Jubbet Adh-Dhib had been operating until then, which only provided electricity for three hours out of 24, an environmentally- and user-friendly solution had been found.

Nobody could be against this, the Dutch thought. But it turned out that somebody was. The heroes of the Civil Administration, the obedient executors of Israeli policy, could not abide electricity in a Palestinian kindergarten. They raided the village last Wednesday and confiscated the solar panels and other equipment and damaged the apparatus. In just an hour, they destroyed equipment that had taken five months to install, made the refrigerators and the computers superfluous, darkened the village and brought back the despair and the polluting generators. And all around them, the lights of settlements and outposts twinkled.

What allows Israel to spit on the money of Dutch taxpayers and thumb its nose at the good intentions of one of the governments friendliest to Israel? Here are a few theories: Because of that same Dutch and European patience with Israel and the way it ignores basic principles of fairness; because Israel thinks Europe is preoccupied with its own problems and won’t take any real steps against it; because Israel has already destroyed humanitarian equipment funded by European countries and, other than protests and declarations, nothing happened; because Israel is a Jewish-democratic country.

The great majority of Israel’s Jewish citizens do not oppose the destruction of a source of energy to a Palestinian village, or see it as a disaster or injustice. This lack of opposition encourages more of the same. Israelis also think foreign countries should not interfere in our business; after all, it’s clearly our private affair whether Jubbet Adh-Dhib has electricity or not.

Why is it our business? Quite a few young people have left the village and moved to Area A or Area B because they couldn’t stand the conditions, without building permits and without electricity. If everyone leaves, there will be more land available for us, the Jewish citizens of the Jewish democratic country. That’s simple arithmetic and typical Israeli long-term thinking.

Let’s hope that this time, the Dutch protest won’t stop at words.

Amira Hass
Israeli authorities confiscated 96 solar panels from Jubbet Adh-Dhib for lacking "proper permits".
Updated July 4, 2017 16:28 BST
On 28 June, the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA), the body governing Area C in the West Bank, confiscated 96 panels and electronic equipment from Jubbet Adh-Dhib's electric system, arguing that they had been built without proper permitsComet-ME

The Netherlands has filed a complaint with the Israeli government after it confiscated Dutch solar panels donated to Jubbet al-Dhib, a village in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel.
The equipment was given as part of a Dutch-funded €500,000 ($567,612; £439,175) project to electrify areas of the West Bank. Of this, €350,000 funded the electrification of Jubbet Adh-Dhib.
However, on 28 June the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA), the body governing Area C in the West Bank, confiscated 96 panels and electronic equipment – worth €40,000 – from Jubbet Adh-Dhib's electric system, arguing that they had been built without proper permits, local media reported.
The Netherlands' foreign ministry demanded Israel return the seized equipment to the village and it is "currently assessing what next steps can be taken," Israeli news site Haaretz reported.
An unnamed source close to Dutch diplomats in the West Bank told the news site there was anger brewing in the Netherlands government following the seizure.
The electric system in Jubbet Adh-Dhib was built in 2016 by Israeli-Palestinian NGO Comet-ME, which provides sustainable energy and clean water to disenfranchised communities. The organisation said in a statement on its website that the equipment was seized "without prior warning and without having issued stop-work orders beforehand".
The organisation continued: "ICA workers also caused considerable damage, both to the solar panels and to the electricity room – breaking some of the panels, cutting many electricity and communication cables, and ripping the components off the walls of the electricity room – with the clear intention of preventing the future use of the system."
Michael Sfard, Comet-ME's legal adviser, told IBTimes UK the confiscation constituted "a violation of international law".
"International Humanitarian law and especially international laws of occupation, impose a duty on the occupying power – Israel – to supply the occupied communities with their humanitarian needs," he said.
"Electricity is considered today by all legal experts a humanitarian need. It allows refrigeration of food and medicine, it provides light and energy for medical treatment and it allows the maintenance of social life. The installment of a renewable energy system in the village is an act of provision of humanitarian relief. As such, Israel has a legal obligation to allow it and assist its carrying out.
"By raiding the village, seizing the solar panel and damaging the system, Israel has further breached another principle of international law: the prohibition on damaging humanitarian objects. This is a grave violation and has no possible justification," Sfard concluded.
The Israeli embassy in London has not responded to a request for comment.
A spokesperson for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said in a statement sent to IBTimes UK: "On 28th June 2017, illegal solar and electric panels were detected in Jubb al-Thib, which were established without the necessary permits. Also, constriction freeze warrants were given to and illegal electricity room at the village and to the panels stands. We emphasize that the village has other electricity sources."
However, Comet-ME rejected the claims.
"The solar micro-grid that has powered the community since November 2016 was the first time in its history that the community had a reliable and consistent – not to mention clean and safe – source of electricity," a spokesperson for the organisation told IBTimes UK.

Citing a 2010 report by Human Rights Watch, the spokesperson said residents in Jubbet adh-Dhib have applied for a "connection to the Israeli electricity" numerous times since 1988, but all requests have been refused.

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