Mohammad Yousef A’ Daghamein, Imneizil School headmaster, speaks from experience. When I asked him how the loss of electricity would affect Imneizil School, he was firm. “Without electricity,” he said, “the educational process comes to a standstill.” He gave examples. “For instance there is the computer. The printer.” Clearly, administration would become next to impossible. “And then maybe you have a documentary film to show the students. You become unable to provide educational materials.” Of course, this is not news to us. We already know how important electricity is; we depend on it every day.
The village of Imneizil, a Palestinian town of about 350 people with a regional school that serves about 120 primary school children, has a demolition order pending against its solar energy grid. A lawyer working on the case has said the issue will probably go before the High Court because other avenues are essentially exhausted as of the 10th of this month. I cannot overemphasize the importance of advocacy letters at this time for the village of Imneizil. The threat is not idle. It is real. In September we witnessed the immediate aftermath of the destruction of electric infrastructure to the village of Khirbet Ghuwein al Fawqa. Last week, the village of Um Fagarah lost its electric power when bulldozers from the Army came and demolished the pylons. What has happened in other villages we visit can definitely happen here.
The Summary Objection to the demolition prepared by Imneizil’s advocate says that before the electric grid was created, the village relied on small generators. The power supply was “small, fragmented, and irregular,” reads the brief. “Lack of electricity did not allow…electrical equipment necessary for normal activity of the village clinic, “ which was unable to treat breathing difficulties or monitor pregnant women or to keep vaccines cold. The villagers sometimes suffered from food poisoning because of unreliable or absent refrigeration. The solar power installation has changed all that.
The Summary Objection to the demolition concludes that the demolition order is “against a civilian building used by the villagers for civilian purposes”. Because demolition of this infrastructure disregards the basic humanitarian needs of the occupied population, the order is illegal under international humanitarian law. Occupied populations receive this protection under the Geneva Conventions which require that an occupying power provide for the education and humanitarian needs of the occupied population. Furthermore, these regulations specify that it is against international law to demolish civilian property.
I urge you to write today about this pending demolition order. If you are a US citizen, you can write to your senators, congress people, and State Department, or, if you are in the EU, to your MPs or MEPs. You can also write to Ehud Barak, Ministry of Defense, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org . The proper salutation for Mr. Barak is, “Dear Minister.” Let them know you believe the destruction of civilian infrastructure, particularly in Imneizil, is immoral and that you know it is against international humanitarian law.
Thank you for your time and your interest in Justice. Peace depends upon justice and the good will of people toward each other. The families in Imneizil would thank you and give you “double welcome.” They would put on the light for you and make you tea. Depend on it.