Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Electrical Lines as Apartheid

30 July 2009
AT-TUWANI URGENT ACTION: Demand that Quartet pressure Israel to revoke demolition order for electricity pylons

[Note: According to the Geneva Conventions, the International Court of Justice in the Hague, and numerous United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) are illegal. Most settlement outposts are considered illegal under Israeli law.]

On Tuesday, 28 July, members of the Israeli District Coordinating Office (DCO)—the branch of the Israeli army that administers civilian affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT)—issued a demolition order for the newly constructed electricity pylons in the South Hebron Hills village of At-Tuwani. These pylons would connect the village to the Palestinian electricity grid in nearby towns.

Tony Blair, special envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East* visited At-Tuwani on March 19, 2009. (See AT-TUWANI: At-Tuwani hosts former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair to address Israeli occupation and violence in the southern West Bank.) During his visit, Blair assured villagers that the DCO had given oral permission for electricity construction work.

On 25 May 2009, the DCO entered the village of At-Tuwani, ordered villagers to halt construction work on new electricity pylons in the village, but produced no written orders (see AT-TUWANI URGENT ACTION: Demand that Israeli occupying forces allow At-Tuwani to bring electricity into their village.)

Saber Hreni, head of the At-Tuwani Village Council, wrote to Blair on 26 May, “We hope that in your role as envoy for the Quartet, you can be of assistance to us in contacting the Israeli government with the hopes of procuring written permission for these projects. We fear without written permission our problems will continue.”

Blair did not respond to concerns of the villagers regarding permission to erect the electricity pylons.


Contact the Office of the Quartet and ask them to pressure Israel to revoke the demolition order for the pylons and allow the At-Tuwani villagers access to electricity.

Stefan Szetesi
Private Sector Development Officer


Olivia Otecosky

Telephone: +972 2 633 3333

The Quartet on the Middle East is the body—consisting of representatives of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia—responsible for facilitating peace talks between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority (See Tony Blair is currently the special envoy for the Quartet.

Currently At-Tuwani receives only four hours electricity a day, supplied by a diesel generator operated and paid for by the villagers. The Israeli settlement and outposts of Ma’on, Havat Ma’on, and Avigail, located within two km of At-Tuwani, are supplied by electricity from the main Israeli power grid.

Israel, as the occupying power, is responsible for the general welfare of the occupied Palestinian civilian population.* Whilst providing electricity and water to Israeli settlements and outposts in the occupied Palestinian territories, the Israeli authorities fail to supply these basic services to Palestinian towns and villages. In this most recent move, they are now threatening to demolish the villagers’ attempts to improve their living conditions by connecting to the Palestinian electrical grid.

* International Humanitarian law (1907 Hague Regulation and 1949 Fourth Geneva Conventions) obliges the occupying power to ensure the welfare of the occupied population.