An Israeli-Palestinian NGO is using solar and wind energy to transform the lives of marginalized communities of Palestinian farmers and shepherds.
Audio interview with Comet-ME General Manager Elad Orian
Friday, March 28, 2014
The Palestinian community of Birl el Eid, located in the south Hebron hills, in Area C of the West Bank, suffered an attack on Wednesday evening, March 26, when five solar panels funded by Germany, New Zealand and private foundations were damaged by unidentified attackers.
The attack happened despite the Israeli government’s explicit authorization for the community to return to its land, following years of absence caused by ongoing abuse and sabotage by settlers residing in nearby illegal outposts.
Elad Orian, General Manager of Comet-ME, an Israeli-Palestinian NGO which built the solar systems, said: “We are outraged at this shameful and senseless crime. The systems we built are the only source of power for the fifty people living in this community, since Israel denies them access to the electricity grid.”
“The solar panels are vital to maintain basic sanitary conditions, connecting the community to the outside world, generating income and empowering women. We expect the Israeli authorities, who possess military and civil control in this area, to find and trial the people who did this. Most importantly – we expect the Israeli authorities to protect Palestinian communities in area C from settler violence and provide them with a safe living environment,” Orian said.
During the late 1990s, Palestinian families residing in Bir el Eid were forced to leave the area due to ongoing violence perpetrated by Jewish settlers, including the killing of sheep and goats, setting fire to fields and crops, damaging property and throwing animal heads into water cisterns. The violence continued undeterred despite numerous complaints to Israeli police.
Following a Supreme Court Appeal submitted by Rabbis for Human Rights, Israel accepted the residents’ demand to return to their land in January 2009.
Despite the Israeli authorization, Israel has not allowed the community to build any infrastructure and has instead demolished community homes and animal shelters on several occasions. In addition, Israel has not only not provided the residents with basic services like water and electricity, it has issued demolition orders to the system installed by Comet-ME.
In the years since their return, the residents of Bir el Eid continued to suffer routine attacks by settlers. In this recent incident, the target of the attacks was a renewable energy project built in 2010 by Comet-ME and funded by the German and the New Zealand governments and by private foundations.
Comet-ME has installed similar solar and wind energy systems in 20 communities facing conditions similar to those of Bir el Eid. The systems provide energy to a total of approximately 2,000 people.
For more information on the incident, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The damaged solar panels in Bir el Eid:
Watch video report about Comet-ME’s renewable energy systems and how they improve lives of Palestinian communities in the southern Hebron hills.
Solar and wind energy help Palestinian shepherds and farmers in rural territory move forward. Though the threat of forced demolition of the installations, mainly financed with Western donations, hangs over the projects (in Dutch).
Fourteen hundred Palestinians in the West Bank have electricity thanks to the windmills and solar panels of the Israeli-Palestinian Comet-ME (in Dutch).
A quiet diplomatic war is being waged by several European governments against the Israeli Civil Administration which controls the Israeli occupied West Bank. At stake is the destruction of a humanitarian project funded by a number of European governments, international organisations and foundations, worth approximately half a million euros and years of voluntary manpower hours put in by Israelis and Palestinians. Should the destruction go ahead, more than a thousand Palestinians will be without electricity, and their livelihood would be decimated.
The NGO Comet-ME’s new center is to serve as a permanent base of operations to provide clean energy to Palestinian communites who are off-grid in the West Bank.
The government of Israel’s eviction and demolition plans for 13 Palestinian villages in the Hebron Hills come as demolition and displacement rates have hit a three-year high, adding to the uncertainty about the future for Palestinians living in the Israeli-controlled Area C
Video: Desert Oasis – Activists bring renewable energy to remote Palestinian villages. This video is part of Global Post’s The Earth Project, featuring short documentaries about innovative and inspiring alternative energy initiatives.