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500 Palestinian schools in West Bank to gain solar power under new agreement

Jan. 16, 2018 3:00 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 16, 2018 2:59 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Palestinian Ministry of Education and the Palestinian Investment Fund (PIF) signed an agreement on Tuesday promising solar power to 500 schools in the occupied West Bank, according to official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency.

Wafa reported that the agreement states that solar panels will be installed on roofs of 500 Palestinian public schools to generate 35 megawatts of electricity.

The project, worth $35 million and funded by the PIF, the investment arm of the PA, is expeted to take four years to complete.

Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah attended the signing ceremony and said the agreement is part of the government efforts to invest in renewable energy solutions. Meanwhile, according to Wafa, PIF director Mohammad Mustafa said this project was the first of its kind in the region.

Palestinian Minister of Education Sabri Saidam thanked the government for its support of this project, which he said he “hopes will develop and enhance the education system in Palestine.”

Remote Palestinian schools and villages who have been set up with solar capabilities through donor funding, have in the past, been targeted by Israeli authorities who either confiscate or destroy the solar panels under the claim that they were set up without Israeli-issued permits in ‘Area C’.

Area C makes of more than 60 percent of the West Bank, and is under full Israeli security and civilian control.

It remains unclear exactly which schools in the West Bank will receive solar panels under the new agreement, and if the PA will have to receive special permission from Israel to set up the solar panels depending on the location of the schools.

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