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Clashes erupt as Israel destroys electricity pylons

Eight admitted to hospital with light to moderate injuries after Israel uses tear gas, rubber bullets to break up protests

Gulf News

Ramallah: The Israeli military has removed and destroyed 30 electricity pylons key to the supply of power to a large part of the village of Qusrah, 24km south of the city of Nablus, under the pretext that those pylons were ‘disturbing’ residents of the Israeli colonial outpost of Yesh Qodesh.

Furious villagers clashed with Israeli forces on Wednesday evening and yesterday after they stormed the village and removed the pylons. The Israeli forces used tear gas and rubber-coated bullets to disperse the Palestinian demonstrators. As a result eight villagers were admitted to hospital with light to moderate injuries.

Approximately 400,000 Israelis live in colonies in the occupied West Bank. The colonies, deemed illegal under international law, have been built on occupied land, forcing Palestinian villages to be moved elsewhere.

Speaking to Gulf News Gassan Doghlous, a Palestinian National Authority (PNA) official, said that the pylons had never posed a threat to the Israeli outpost.

“It is true that those [pylons] face the outpost but they are far away from the outpost, which itself was illegally built on privately-owned Palestinian territory,” he said.

He added that a large part of the village had been left in the dark and that the village’s council had lodged a complaint with the Palestinian-Israeli security liaison office, which is yet to respond.

“We know that the security coordination office will not do anything about the brutal actions of the Israeli military and colonists, but it was a necessary official procedure,” he said.

“There has been no legal justification for destroying the pylons, [an action] which initiated the clashes and left hundreds of villagers in total darkness,” he said.

Doghlous said that the village of Qusrah is located in Area B, an area making up one-fifth of the West Bank, in which the PNA has administrative control while Israel has security control.

“The Israeli military [did not] coordinate its military action in Qusrah and never informed the Palestinian side about Israeli intentions to destroy the [pylons],” he said, adding that such acts were not acceptable and strictly violate the agreements between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

As per the Oslo Accords, Israel is obliged to notify the PNA before holding security exercises in areas jointly controlled by the two.

The villagers also reported the damage caused by the Israeli forces to the PNA and the Nablus Governorate, which promised urgent and immediate action to restore power to affected homes.

The village, with a total population of 4,500 Palestinians, had been a key target for Israeli colonists, whose colonies and outposts spread in the area and on lands owned primarily by Qusrah residents.

Abdul Azim Al Wadi, who heads the Qusrah Village Council, said that Israeli colonists, escorted by Israeli forces, had become accustomed to raiding the village and destroying public and private property.

“In the past couple of years, the Israeli military and colonists have committed all kinds of violations against the villagers of Qusrah. [There have been] daily clashes with colonists who have bad intentions towards the villagers,” he told Gulf News.

Al Wadi highlighted the PNA’s failure to minimise colonists’ attacks on the village.

“The PNA should play an active role in providing the villagers with protection. We know for sure that the colonists aim at removing the villagers from the area, and those goals should be confronted officially and publicly,” he said.

“The residents of Qusrah should be provided with a helping hand and never be left as prey for the Israeli colonists whose greed is unlimited,” he said.