The work halt was supposed to expire following the Eid al-Adha holiday, which ended on Saturday night, but the leader of the Druze community announced that the Prime Minister’s Office informed him of its extension

Adi Hashmonai. Jul 2, 2023

Construction of wind turbines in the northern Golan Heights did not resume on Sunday, despite the announcement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week that work would continue following the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which ended on Saturday night. 

EnergyX, the company carrying out the construction, said that the work has not resumed because it was conditioned on the arrival of police security. However, the police did not send reinforcements to the Golan, claiming that they were preparing for the disruptive demonstrations expected on Monday at Ben-Gurion International Airport in protest over the government’s legislative push to overhaul the judiciary.

Netanyahu ordered a halt to the works last week, at the request of the Druze community’s spiritual leader, Sheikh Muwafak Tarif. Sources close to Tarif said over the weekend that senior figures in the Prime Minister’s Office informed them that the stoppage would continue, but the office has not issued any official announcement to that effect, and declined comment on the matter. 

Last week clashes broke out between local residents and security forces, seriously wounding five Druze men. Residents and Druze clerics expressed concern that the renewal of the works would escalate resistance, which might ignite into “a bloodbath and casualties.” On Thursday, Druze residents in the Golan Heights appealed to the prime minister to freeze the project, claiming that new evidence indicates failures in the approval of the plan at the committee on national infrastructures.

A letter sent by attorney Kais Nasser on behalf of residents, landowners, clerics and public representatives of the Druze community in the Golan Heights claims that there were failures in the appointment of the investigator who looked into objections to the plan. The letter further argues that the plan was advanced and approved “on the basis of a presentation by the entrepreneurial firm, as if it owns the rights to the land by force of agreements with the rights owners of the land, while this is not so, and most landowners involved do not agree to the plan.”

Nasser noted in the letter that the approval was granted without a determination by the attorney general regarding the company’s rights to the land, “especially after the national committee was provided with the arguments as to the company’s contracting with parties who are not the owners of the land within the area of the turbines.” The letter also claims that at the hearings of the national infrastructures committee, there were people present who were introduced as representatives of the Druze community in the Golan Heights, and who expressed support for the project, but who turned out to be paid advocates of the company. 

In addition, the attorney wrote that the representative chosen by EnergyX to check the procedure to recognize the rights of the landowners in the Golan Heights is in a conflict of interest, namely that the representative is also the attorney hired by the company to obtain the signatures of the “unknown landowners.”

Another letter was sent on Thursday by attorneys Nir Kehat and Yoav Levy, who represent dozens of farmers and six cooperative organizations in the northern Golan Heights who are engaged in a lawsuit against EnergyX over the company’s rights to the land it intends to build the wind turbines on. They claim that significant portions of the wind turbine plan are expected to be carried out on land they own.