March 25. This morning we visited a Comet-ME (www.comet-me.org) site, whose literature describes it as “an Israeli-Palestinian NGO that provides basic energy services for off-grid communities in a way that is both environmentally and socially sustainable”? It operates in the South Hebron hills area.
Problem is that I’m worried that is might be an example of ‘normalisation’, and I wonder if anyone else knows.
We found it because one of the Freedom Bus participants had heard of it through his home Swiss Friends of Palestine organisation, so we went to check its site in the nearby village of Qawawsis, and it was very impressive. Its a small scale solar and wind farm and even so supplies power to 1800 people through a network of cables, and there other sites in the hills too. Its small staff (I met four, and couldn’t see any more), are Palestinian electrical and water engineers.
It is funded by a variety of European organisations, mainly governmental, with Germany being by far the largest donor, and the only Israeli links I could find were definitely non-government, such as Breaking the Silence, and the IDF has demolished some of its facilities.
This afternoon my community work was to stand guard (watch might be a more appropriate word) over a Palestinian shepherd and her flock, who travel to graze very near an Israeli settlement, the inhabitants of which often harass them, or worse, though today the only settler activity was to drive back and forth along the settler-only road above, accompanied by a police car. I don’t know why on earth the settlers should regard the shepherd and her flock as a threat. I guess they are so exclusive they regard even harmless ‘others’ as something to be hostile to.