At-Tuwani – 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 to the six newly constructed electricity pylons in the village of At-Tuwani, located in the South Hebron hills.
On 19 March 2009, Tony Blair, special middle east envoy of the Quartet, visited At-Tuwani (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 oral permission had been given by the DCO to carry out the electricity construction work.
On 25 May 2009, the DCO entered the village of At-Tuwani and ordered villagers to halt construction work on new electricity pylons in the village. No written orders were delivered. (see AT-TUWANI URGENT ACTION: Demand that Israeli occupying forces allow At-Tuwani to bring electricity into their village).
On 26 May 2009, Saber Hreini, head of the At-Tuwani Village Council, wrote to Blair requesting written permission for the electricity work to continue.
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.
The Office of the Quartet has been informed that the demolition orders were delivered, and are responsible for guaranteeing that Blair’s assurances are honored in the At-Tuwani villagers plan to bring electricity to the village.
The Quartet 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. Tony Blair is currently the special envoy for the Quartet to the Middle East.
Currently At-Tuwani receives only four hours electricity a day, supplied by a diesel generator operated and paid for by the villagers. The illegal Israeli settlement and outposts of Ma’on, Havat Ma’on, and Avigail, located within 2km 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 they 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.
* International Humanitarian law (1907 Hague Regulation and 1949 Fourth Geneva Conventions) obliges the occupying power to ensure the welfare of the occupied population.