Palestinian Villages May Soon Go Dark Once Again [View all]
Several small Palestinian villages in the West Bank had been without electricity for decades -- before an Israeli foundation with funding from Europe recently installed solar panels and wind turbines. Now, though, Israel wants to remove the facilities because they are on land under its administration.
The best part is when the lights in the tents go on, one by one, says Elad Orian. Electricity here, in the hills south of Hebron, was long unreliable. Either it was not available or it was too expensive, produced for just a few hours each day by a noisy, diesel-guzzling generator. That changed when Elad Orian and Noam Dotan, two Israeli physicians who had tired of conflict, came along three years ago and installed solar panels and erected wind turbines. Since then, such facilities have been installed in 16 communities, providing 1,500 Palestinians with electricity.
The women here no longer have to make their butter by hand; they can refrigerate the sheep's cheese, which is their livelihood; and their children can do their homework at night. Now they can sit together and watch TV -- and connect to a world that seems far removed from their lives on the edge of the Judaean Desert. It is but a small revolution, achieved at little cost. But it is a good example of successful development aid.
The success, though, could soon be a thing of the past. Israel has threatened to tear them down with five municipalities in recent weeks having received "stop work" orders -- the first step on the road to demolition. The problem is that the facilities are in the so-called Area C, which covers 60 percent of the West Bank and is administered by Israel. Permission from the Israelis is a requirement before construction projects can move ahead -- and permits are almost never given to Palestinians.