Friday, April 12, 2024

Israeli settlement expansion in West Bank hits record high: Report

The Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank reached a record high during the first year under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government, a report by an Israeli leftist non-governmental organization said.

Since the outbreak of the war on Gaza on Oct. 7, 2023, Peace Now revealed in a statement that the number of settlements has risen.

The statement revealed that the formation of the Netanyahu government in December 2022 created “unprecedented conditions for the expansion of settlements”.

“In 2023, settlers established at least 26 new illegal outposts, with at least ten of them established during the war since Oct. 7, 2023 and at least 18 of them being agricultural farms,” it added.

The statement also highlighted the alarming trend of forced displacement, saying that “in direct relation to the establishment of outposts, approximately 1,345 Palestinians were forced to flee from their homes due to violent attacks by settlers”.

“Twenty-one Palestinian communities were displaced and uprooted, 16 of them during the war since Oct. 7, and 5 communities prior to that,” it elaborated.

Additionally, the statement outlined that “in 2023, the Israeli government promoted plans for the construction of 12,349 housing units in settlements in the West Bank”.

Moreover, it noted that in 2023 “15 illegal outposts underwent the process of legalization”.

Estimates indicate about 700,000 Israeli settlers live in roughly 300 illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

All Jewish settlements in the occupied territories are considered illegal under international law.

Tensions have been running high across the West Bank since Israel launched a deadly military offensive against the Gaza Strip following an Oct. 7 Hamas attack.

At least 394 Palestinians have since been killed and 4,400 others injured by Israeli army fire in the occupied territory, according to the Health Ministry.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice over its deadly onslaught on the Gaza Strip, which has left more than 28,800 people dead.

In an interim ruling in January, the Hague-based court ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

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