Dutch gov’t condemns Israeli confiscation of donated solar panels

Jericho/ PNN/

The Dutch government has lodged a protest with Israel over the confiscation of equipment donated to the Palestinian village of Jibbet Addeeb’s hybrid power system (diesel and solar powered), according to a written statement of the Dutch foreign ministry, sent to Haaretz by the Netherlands’ office in Ramallah

The Dutch government donated 500,000 euros to the electrification project south west of Bethlehem in the West Bank, 350 thousand euro of which went to the electrification of Jibbet Addeeb. The Dutch Foreign ministry had requested Israel return the equipment and is “currently assessing what next steps can be taken,” it said.

A source close to Dutch diplomats in the West Bank told Haaretz that these softly worded statements cover the anger brewing in the government of the Netherlands, a close friend of Israel’s, at the damage to the humanitarian project.

On Wednesday morning, officials from the Civil Administration (the Israeli body governing Area C in the West Bank) confiscated 96 solar panels and electronic equipment belonging to Jibbet Addeeb’s electric system. The system was installed by the Israeli-Palestinian organization Comet-ME nine months ago, and was funded by the Dutch.

According to Comet-ME, which builds water and energy systems for Palestinians, the equipment not confiscated in the raid was damaged. The cost of the confiscated and damaged equipment is valued at 40 thousand euros, though the material and social damage is much greater, as their seizure immediately resulted in the loss of power for the 30 families in the village and its public buildings.

Cease work and demolition orders were not served to residents prior to the raid, as is required by planning and construction laws. Orders to cease construction and confiscation orders were given to the residents only during the raid itself. Had orders been given in advance the village and its representatives could have taken administrative or legal action.