Israel has approved a massive new colonisation of the West Bank

Settlements being built in the West Bank
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The Israeli state approved the construction of over 5,623 new housing units in the West Bank this week, in an escalation of its colonisation. The United Nations (UN) has condemned the move.

Israeli forces have illegally occupied the West Bank since 1967. They have been colonising it ever since. At least 620,000 Israeli settlers live in over 200 illegal settlements in the occupied territory.

Last week, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave extreme right-winger Bezalel Smotrich sole control of the approval of new settlements. Smotrich has already announced his intention to double the number of settlements within the next few years.

It’s clear that this new wave of colonisation will be facilitated by a ramping up of military repression. Smotrich has publicly denied the existence of Palestinians as a people, and last week he called for the use of airpower and heavy weaponry in West Bank cities.

Military force is already escalating. Israeli forces fired missiles from helicopter gunships in the city of Jenin last week. This was the first time this type of weaponry had been used in the West Bank for twenty years.

Working hand-in-hand with the colonists

Settler violence continued last week in the West Bank following a Palestinian resistance attack on the settlement of Eli, which killed four settlers. The Palestinian attack was in response to the deadly Israeli raid on Jenin, which killed seven Palestinians.

The Israeli army stood by and watched as the violence against Palestinian civilians escalated. Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem pointed out that this is part of a systematic Israeli state policy. It tweeted:

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These events are not a single, isolated failure of the military or state, but a clear expression of Israel’s policy in the OpT [Occupied Palestinian Territories]. As part of this policy, Israel arms gangs of settlers and allows and even encourages them to attack Palestinians.

B’Tselem gave a detailed description of what happened. It said that, beginning on the afternoon of 20 June, Israeli settlers attacked and burnt homes, cars, and property in Palestinian villages and towns.

Two of the first places to be attacked by settlers were Huwarra and al-Lubban al-Sharqiyah. When residents tried to stop the attacks, the Israeli army fired at them with rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition. Similar incidents occurred in Beitin, al-Lubban al-Gharqiyah, Burqah, Yasuf, Turmusaya, and many other places. B’Tselem commented that:

These events don’t reflect a single, isolated failure of the military or the state, but rather a clear expression of Israel’s policy in the occupied territories for many years. As part of this policy, Israel arms gangs of settlers and allows, and even encourages them, using inciting language, to attack Palestinians. As if that were not enough, in some of these cases, soldiers and police officers remain idle, assist the attackers or even harm Palestinians who are trying to protect themselves.

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) tweeted:


An attempt at a new wave of colonisation

It’s clear that the approval of these thousands of new settler housing units is a serious threat by the Israeli state. It is a threat that comes alongside a major escalation of Israeli military force in the West Bank, and the encouragement of violence by Israeli settlers.

Palestinians are calling for solidarity in their anticolonial struggle. You can read more about the Palestinian campaign for Boycott Divestment, and Sanctions against Israeli militarism here. Alternatively, click here to find out about the Palestinian-led ISM, which is calling for international volunteers to join it in Palestine to support the popular grassroots resistance to the occupation.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/Justin McIntosh, resized to 770×403 under license CC BY 2.0

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