Israel Confiscates Palestinian Shepherds' Home Solar Power Units

The units were intended to operate refrigerators, used to store cheeses – on which the family's livelihood depends – and medicines for the sheep and the family

Evacuation of solar systems in Hlat Hamad, July 5, 2017.
Aref Daraghmeh/B'Tselem

Israel confiscated Wednesday two home solar power units that had been contributed by the European Union to a small sheep-herding community in the north of the Jordan Valley.

The confiscated units, which were installed some three months ago, consist of eight solar panels, four batteries and two transformers. They were intended to operate refrigerators, used to store cheeses – on which the family’s livelihood depends – and medicines for the sheep and the family.

The Civil Administration, which carried out the seizure, came to Khirbet Tall al-Himma, home of the 25-strong Hlat Hamad community, at 8 A.M. Wednesday with two military jeeps carrying 10 soldiers, four of them women, two cars with laborers and a truck.

The soldiers left with the seized property an hour and a half later, B’Tselem researcher A’araf Drarma, who witnessed the incident, told Haaretz.

In September 2016 the High Court of Justice ordered the state to return to its owners solar panels it had confiscated a year earlier from the Bedouin community at Khan al Ahmar, east of Jerusalem. The verdict followed a petition filed by lawyer Shlomo Lecker against the confiscation.

Last week the Civil Administration confiscated a hybrid energy system (solar panels and a diesel engine) set up by Comet-Me, an Israeli-Palestinian NGO, some nine months ago in the Palestinian village Jubbet Adh-Dhib, east of Bethlehem.

Here too no orders to stop operating the system were presented before the confiscation.

The Netherlands contributed some half a million euros to Comet-Me’s enterprise to connect various Palestinian villages to the electricity grid, 350,000 euros of which were allocated to the Jubbet Adh-Dhib project. The Netherlands protested against the seizure and demanded Israel return the confiscated equipment to the villagers.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories responded, “The Civil Administration’s inspection unit this morning confiscated eight solar panels which had been installed illegally two weeks ago, and without official permits. During the confiscation, the panels’ owners threw stones at the panels and even broke four of them.”