Extremist Israeli settlers to hold meeting on 'occupying south Lebanon'

Extremist Israeli settlers to hold meeting on 'occupying south Lebanon'
The South Lebanon Settlement Movement will host its inaugural conference on Monday- extending the ongoing settler movement to occupy Palestinian territories.
3 min read
15 June, 2024
Activist Jewish settler group roam the streets of the Old City in Hebron, located in the occupied West Bank, under the protection of Israeli soldiers on May 11, 2024 [Getty]

Israeli extremist settler group The South Lebanon Settlement Movement announced that it is set to host a meeting next week to further talks on creating Jewish settlements in Lebanon

The Israeli movement was first established on 10 April, amid ongoing hostilities between Israel and Lebanese group Hezbollah. 

The Israeli military has exchanged regular fire with Hezbollah forces across the border in southern Lebanon since the start of the war in Gaza in October. 

The South Lebanon Settlement Movement, said to be small in numbers, follows the return of fervency amongst the settler movement seeking to reoccupy the Gaza Strip, which is backed by hardline settlers such as Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich. 

Itay Epshtain, special advisor for the Norwegian Refugee Council, condemned the group ahead of its upcoming meeting, highlighting the group’s plans.  

"Leaders of the settlement movement to share "success stories and best practice" from Israeli settlements of the West Bank, in the hope of committing additional grave breaches of international law and fueling a regional war," he said in a post on X.  

"It is abhorrent as much as a demonstration of lunacy."

In an April report by Israeli newspaper Haaretz, settlers who joined the movement to occupy South Lebanon first rallied on 11 April in the Israeli city of Haifa. 

"Look at how many civilians are now evacuated from their homes because they can't live in the north. As I see it, our call to our enemies – for Gaza as well as in southern Lebanon for Hezbollah – is: Whoever messes with Israel will lose the territory they attack us from," a Jewish settler told Haaretz

"We will conquer that territory, we will settle that territory and we will protect our civilians. If they dare attack us, we'll take more. We'll stop conquering when you stop attacking us." 

The initiative to settle parts of Lebanon kicked off as tens of thousands of residents have been evacuated from their homes on both sides of the border, due to ongoing fighting. 

Diplomatic efforts have so far proved fruitless. 

Not counting annexed east Jerusalem, more than 490,000 Israelis live in the occupied West Bank in settlements considered illegal under international law, alongside some three million Palestinians. 

The expansion of the settlements has gathered pace under successive governments since Israel's capture of the West Bank in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war but has accelerated sharply under the pro-settlement administrations of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Since the start of the war in Gaza on 7 October, at least 537 West Bank Palestinians have been killed by soldiers or settlers, according to the Palestinian Authority. 

In April, UN human rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva that "Israeli security forces must immediately end their active participation in and support for settler attacks on Palestinians". 

"Israeli authorities must instead prevent further attacks, including by bringing those responsible to account." 

Press agencies also contributed to this report.