BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Netherlands has reacted with outrage after Israeli authorities seized dozens of solar panels in a remote occupied West Bank village that were donated by the Dutch government.
Israeli forces confiscated the solar panels in the isolated village of Jubbet al-Dhib east of Bethlehem on Wednesday that were installed last year, under the pretext that they were built without the nearly impossible to obtain permits required by Israel to develop in Area C — the 61 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli military control.
A report Saturday by Israeli news daily Haaretz cited a statement from the Dutch Foreign Ministry, that said the Dutch government lodged a protest with Israel over the confiscation of the electricity equipment, which was said to be a hybrid power system of both diesel and solar power.
The Dutch government-donated electrification project in the southern Bethlehem region cost about 500,000 euros, 350,00 euros of which went to Jubbet al-Dhib, according to the report.
The Dutch Foreign Ministry has requested Israel return the equipment and is “currently assessing what next steps can be taken,” the ministry’s statement to Haaretz said.
However, according to Haaretz, “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.”
Ma’an reported at the time that 60 solar panels were seized, though Haaretz said that in fact 96 panels were taken down, in addition to other electronic equipment of the system that was also seized, which was funded by the Dutch and installed about nine months ago by the Israeli-Palestinian organization Comet-ME, which builds water and energy systems for Palestinians.
According to the report, Comet-ME implemented the project with the assistance of the town’s women’s committee using environmentally and socially sustainable methods.