Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Feature: Israel Threatens Solar Power Project in West Bank

The joy of Palestinian farmer Ali Musalam did not last long when Israel ordered the removal of all solar energy cells that for the first time lighted his home in a village near the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

Musalam, in his mid 40s, told Xinhua that his joy knew no measure when he and other villagers of Mneizel, where blackout was a constant problem, generated power for the first time, thanks to a Spanish-funded project.

The project, worth 250,000 U.S. dollars, installed solar cells in front of each house in several villages in an area known as Area C, which is under complete Israeli security control.

Musalam and many other villagers were disappointed when receiving the order that demanded the solar cells be removed.

"I don't think Israel wants to see us enjoying a better life and receiving better humanitarian services," said Musalam, adding that he lives with 12 family members in a tent made of clothes and a metal piece as the ceiling.

"We were extremely happy that our suffering will be over," Musalam said, referring to the project that would help them stay on their lands and be able to confront the Jewish settlers.

The Israeli orders "killed our joy and happiness," he added.

Alla al-Qawasmi, a Palestinian engineer, said that the idea of building solar cells aims to serve and help the communities in southern Hebron, where power is difficult to transport to due to its location.

"The project was very successful, and because it was successful, the Israeli authorities decided to remove it from there," said al- Qawasmi.

Reyad Houdalli, director of the Palestinian Association for Solar Energy in the West Bank, accused Israel of undermining on purpose all the new Palestinian projects serving the residents in Area C, which represents 60 percent of the entire West Bank.

"Our association is working on providing solutions to supply schools, clinics and houses with electricity through solar energy, " Houdalli told Xinhua, adding that their targets are remote areas neglected by Israel.

"Israel claims that those lands are owned by the state of Israel and the Palestinians can't build up anything on it," Houdalli said.

He added that solar cells are now providing the West Bank with 10 percent of the electricity needs and 72 percent of the households boil water with the solar power.

Omer Kitanna, head of the Palestinian Energy Authority, told Xinhua that the project of solar cells is completely supported by the Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank, adding that " within the coming few years the project will dominate the whole area."


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