The Israeli government reportedly confiscated dozens of solar panels donated by the Dutch government to a remote village in the West Bank.
The electricity systems were installed in the village of Jubbet al-Dhib, which has a population of nearly 150 people. In total, 96 hybrid diesel and solar power electricity panels were seized by the Israeli government.
According to Israeli officials, the panels were not built with proper permits and permissions.
Comet-ME, the aid organization that installed the panels, said that the officials vandalized the equipment in order to prevent the future use of the system. The organization further added that between 60 and 90 panels were taken away intact.
The sudden action by the authorities left about 30 families and commercial businesses in the village without power.
The Netherlands has lodged a complaint with the Israeli government regarding the issue and has asked Israel to return the equipment to the village.
The equipment was donated by the Dutch government as part of an approximately $570,000 humanitarian project. The solar panels, which were meant to provide electricity to the village, were valued at about 40,000 euro ($45,426).
According to a report published in Haaretz, the Dutch Foreign Ministry is considering “what next steps can be taken.”
The issue has angered both the Dutch and Palestinian governments, and critics pointed out that obtaining building permission by the Israeli government for new homes is extremely difficult, if not next to impossible.
The Israeli military agency, Cogat, defended its stance and said that several work stop orders were sent out before the raid and confiscation took place. However, villagers denied this, claiming they were unaware of any orders and they learned that the site had been targeted only after Israeli soldiers showed up.
The agency’s legal advisers said in a statement that “the village had more than enough electricity and hardly required the ‘illegal electrical room.’”
Before the panels were installed, the village relied on a couple of generators that made electricity available only for three hours a day.
This is not the first such move at the hands of the Israelis. Recently, Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ request to reduce Gaza’s electricity supply by 40 percent, leaving the strip with only two hours of electricity per day.