The Palestinian village of Imneizil, in Area C, sits just inside the Green Line and immediately beside the Beit Yatir checkpoint. The village of 300 people, in 40 families, is impoverished, but in the last year the people received electric service when a Spanish initiative, Spanish Cooperation, provided them with an installation of solar panels.
These solar panels provide electric service to the village, to its health center, and to the Imneizil school, which serves 120 primary school students from the village and numerous tiny villages nearby.
Imneizil School itself has only two toilets (not restrooms but actual toilets) for girls and two toilets for boys, and has no potable water on site. Therefore, the students bring their water from home. In the heat of the day this is not enough, and the students I accompany on their way home through the checkpoint into the Seam Zone have often asked me to share my water bottle. The school is attempting to build a bathroom facility and a cistern to store potable water, but the Israeli Army came a week ago and commanded the school to halt this construction.
Currently, the solar panels in the village of Imneizil are under a demolition order. The order was to be enforced on the 18th of October, but the village has legal representation from Rabbis for Human Rights, which is fighting the demolition order. Loss of the solar panels would have a severe effect upon the lives of the people of Im Neizil and would be detrimental to the education of the children in the school. Obviously, this is a humanitarian issue.
It is legend that Abraham Lincoln, who went on to study Law and then became one of America’s most well-remembered presidents, began his education by studying in the candle-light. We think of these hardships as having built character: how amazing that Mr. Lincoln overcame the obstacles of his poor childhood. But in the villages, when we pass the evenings in dim light and I hold a flashlight so the children and I can draw and color together, there is nothing romantic or edifying about low lighting. Think for a moment about your children trying to do their homework without electricity and you will see what I mean.
Light, water, sanitation. How do you manage a village without light? How do you run a school without water and sanitation?
Since the demolition order against the solar panels needs to be appealed, today I want to bring that issue into the light. Maybe you can send some energy! Here are some suggestions.
1. Write to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton (U.S. Department of State,2201 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20520) about this issue. Tell her you think the lights should stay on in Imneizil and that the people there and throughout the West Bank, deserve to keep their electrical infrastructure. (Perhaps you can also refer to the loss of electricity to the village of Khirbet Ghuwein al Fawqa last month, when the Army deliberately removed all the electrical poles bringing power to the village.)
2. Write to Israel (Government of Israel Ministry of Defense, Mission to the USA, 800 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017, email@example.com) asking why the solar panels that give light to a small town and a primary school are under a demolition order. Remind Israeli officials that they have a responsibility under international law to care for the needs of Palestinians under occupation. Ask how this action protects the rights of children to an education. Let them know the world is watching.
3. If this bothers you, you can write your senators and representatives in Congress and tell them how you feel about turning the lights off in Imneizil and Khirbet Ghuwein al Fawqa. The US gives a lot of money to Israel every year. Is this how you want them to use your contribution?
Let your light shine.