Ignoring Court Case, Israel Seizes Solar Panels Powering Bedouin School in West Bank

Army authorities violate established procedure of waiting until High Court makes an interim decision on a petition before acting

A Bedouin encampment in the area of Abu Nuwar, May 24, 2015.
Anadolu Agency

The Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank seized solar panels that powered a Bedouin school and a preschool outside Jerusalem on Wednesday, even though it knew a petition against the seizure was being filed to the High Court of Justice. Indeed, the court issued a restraining order against the confiscation – an hour after the panels were carted off.

By taking the panels, the military authorities violated the established procedure of waiting until the High Court makes an interim decision on a petition before acting.

The panels stood in the Bedouin village of Abu Nuwar, located in the E1 area between Jerusalem and the large settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim. Local resident Daoud Basimat sent a letter to the prosecution through attorney Alaa Mahagna, stressing that there was going to be a petition filed against the seizure of the solar panels. The prosecution acknowledged the notice and said it was being passed to the relevant officials.

Nevertheless, the state hastened to take action and confiscated the solar panels on Wednesday at about 2:30 P.M. An hour later, unaware that the panels had already been hauled away, Justice Neal Hendel issued a temporary order against any enforcement action, “Including forbidding their use, demolishing or confiscating the solar panels that are the subject of this petition unless there is a pressing security need requiring this.”

“This is not the first time that the Civil Administration takes action in contravention of the law while ignoring judicial orders, in an effort to create a fait accompli in the field,” Mahagna told Haaretz. “These are solar panels that were erected to give a basic level of electricity to the only school in the village."

“The enforcement actions reflect the Civil Administration’s approach to the Bedouin communities in the West Bank,” he continued. “What happened today reflects the real meaning of the occupation, which perceives Palestinians as nonexistent in all the territories designated to strengthen the settlement enterprise and the settlements.”

A security source stressed that the panels had been erected without a permit, adding that in fact they were erected on the ruins of other Palestinian structures that had been demolished by the administration a few weeks ago.

After learning what had happened, Hendel told the state to submit a detailed report on the sequence of Wednesday's events, which will also address the "claimed link between the solar panels that were confiscated and the school and preschool at the site," by Thursday.

In response, the Civil Administration said that "On August 8, inspectors from the administration found unauthorized construction that included the solar panels. The next day, the panels and additional equipment that were placed at the site illegally were taken. A short time afterwards, the Justice Ministry received a copy of the petition filed to the High Court of Justice in this regard and only later was an injunction given." The administration stressed that "the fact that a lawyer petitions the Justice Ministry does not override authorities' responsibility to enforce the law of the land."