Can you imagine defending your land and resisting occupation with windmills, solar panels, and recycled car tires? If you live in Palestine, this is not an eco-Utopian dream – it is the reality of a few West Bank communities squeezed by settlements and occupation.
The Israeli occupation uses force and unjust policies to intimidate and drive out Palestinians from their land. The land is then taken and annexed to nearby Israeli illegal settlements or outposts. To drive out the local Palestinian populations in the West Bank, the occupation denies Palestinians water and electricity, and destroys any effort to build schools, clinics or homes.
So, if you can’t use traditional materials to build and are denied electricity and water, which nearby illegal Israeli settlers use day and night, what do you do? You do as the Palestinians do – go green and eco-friendly. You get your electricity from windmills and solar panels, you build your schools from recycled car tires, and you refuse to give up your land.
“This school was built from wood and concrete and destroyed twice by the Israeli occupation. It is now built from car tires and gets its electricity from solar panels on the roof,” Dr. Sabri Saidam, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ technology adviser said describing Al-Khan Al-Ahmar primary mixed school.
The primary school serves 54 boy and girls up to the 4th grade in the Al-Khan Al-Ahmar area outside Jerusalem. Once the students reach 4th grade, they have to go to Jericho for the rest of their schooling. Parents who can’t afford to pay for their children to commute to Jericho prefer their kids repeat the 4th grade several times rather than go to Jericho for the 5th grade.
Israel aggressively denies this community and many others permission to build houses, schools, or any structure that could help them stay on the land. “My father was arrested, and his bulldozer was confiscated by the Israelis, and we were fined five thousand dollars for trying to level the ground because we want to build a school for our kids,” Al-Khan Al-Ahmar resident Mohamad Jahaleen told us.
What is encouraging is that the Palestinian government is paying very close attention to these communities. Dr. Sabri Saidam, accompanied by Palestine Note, Minister of Local Governance Dr. Khaled Alqawasmi, and adviser to the prime minister Dr. Jawad Naji visited several endangered communities in the West Bank and promised to assist them with solar panels and windmills to help them stay on their land.
I believe it is important to make this effort successful on a larger scale throughout Palestine by creating a “green fund.” Such a fund help not only endangered communities but all Palestinians throughout the territories benefit from green technologies.
There are already green businesses in Palestine that could serve as the foundation for such an initiative – MENA Geothermal is one such example. According to experts in green technology in Palestine, a fund of less than 10 million dollars would go a long way toward encouraging Palestinians to lower their energy consumption and dependence on Israel. So the question remains, where is Palestine’s green fund?