Israeli authorities in the occupied West Bank have seized the solar panels powering a school for Bedouin children near Jerusalem, ignoring a High Court petition over their removal in the process, local media has reported.
The solar panels, which were the sole source of electricity for a preschool and primary school in building in the Bedouin village of Abu Nuwar, were installed illegally without proper planning permissions, the Israeli Civil Administration said.
The were confiscated on Wednesday afternoon despite the fact a High Court decision on a petition challenging the removal order had not yet been reached, Haaretz newspaper reported.
The High Court ended up issuing a temporary restraining order against removing the panels, but it came an hour after they had already been dismantled.
While the fact a appeal was filed does not legally compel the authorities not to act, it is usual for the authorities to wait for a decision to be handed down.
“This is not the first time that the Civil Administration takes action in contravention of the law while ignoring judicial orders, in an effort to create a fait accompli in the field,” attorney Alaa Mahagna told Haaretz.
“The enforcement actions reflect the Civil Administration’s approach to the Bedouin communities in the West Bank,” he said.
The judge presiding over the case has told the state it must produce a detailed report into how and why the solar panels were removed.
On August 8, inspectors from the administration found unauthorised construction that included the solar panels. The next day, the panels and additional equipment that were placed at the site illegally were taken. A short time afterwards, the Justice Ministry received a copy of the petition filed to the High Court of Justice in this regard and only later was an injunction given,” a statement from the Civil Administration said.
Critics of Israeli activity in the occupied West Bank regularly point out that building permissions for new Palestinian homes and infrastructure are almost impossible to obtain.
Last month, the Netherlands has lodged a complaint with the Israeli government after dozens of Dutch solar panels donated to a West Bank village were confiscated by Israeli authorities on the same grounds.