From the very outset of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, it instituted a planning, development and construction policy whereby construction by Palestinians was restricted while Israeli settlements were allocated very extensive areas for establishment and expansion. Israel thereby created a situation in which thousands of Palestinians are forced – as the only recourse for housing their families – to build unlicensed homes. This remains the policy in Area C, the area still under full Israeli control, which comprises approximately 60% of the West Bank.
On 1 Apr. 2015, Civil Administration officials confiscated 12 solar panels, the sole source of electricity in the community of Khan al-Ahmar, near the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim. In a bid to force out residents and seize the area, Israel denies the community access to the power grid and prevents any possibility for legal construction. B'Tselem urges the Civil Administration to return the panels and allow residents to build legally in their community. Israel must meet its obligations under IHL to act for the benefit and well-being of the residents of the occupied territory.