Sunday, May 19, 2024

Israel has speeded up settlement expansion since outbreak of Gaza war: Report

Israel has accelerated its settlement expansion across East al-Quds since Tel Aviv launched its military campaign in the besieged Gaza Strip in early October 2023, according to a report by the Guardian.

The Guardian, citing the most recent official planning documents, reported on Wednesday that Israel has approved or advanced more than 20 projects – totaling thousands of settler units.

At least two new settlement projects were approved in the immediate aftermath of hostilities in Gaza – only 48 hours. The expansion of a high-security gated settlement called Kidmat Zion in the heart of the Palestinian neighborhood of Ras al-Amud on the eastern periphery of the city was soon set to go ahead.

The second project is known as Givat Shaked and will be built on the northwestern side of Beit Safafa on a plot of grass and trees.

Two major projects now flank the Palestinian community of Beit Safafa, most of which is in East al-Quds. One, known as Givat Hamatos, was frozen for a decade due to international opposition.

A third settlement project, also near Beit Safafa, is known as Lower Aqueduct and involves the construction of a large settlement adjacent to a Palestinian neighborhood. The Lower Aqueduct plan was fully approved on December 29. The site straddles the line between East al-Quds and the western part of the city.

Sari Kronish, with the Israeli rights organization Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights, has said, “The fast-tracking of these plans has been unparalleled in the last six months.”

Kronish added the construction plans continued to advance “at unprecedented speed”, notwithstanding the shutdown of many activities due to the military campaign in Gaza.

Ahmed Salman, 71, the chair of Beit Safafa’s community council, stated, “Our family has been here for 250 years … Now I have a black hole in my heart because I can’t see how my children and grandchildren can spend their lives here.”

In a report to the Human Rights Council in March, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, said the Israeli regime was going on with its settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories by unprecedented amounts, posing a significant threat to the viability of a future Palestinian state.

The high commissioner added the expansion involved the transfer of settlers into occupied territories.

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