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Israel to build 3,300 new settlement homes after attack

Israel plans to build 3,300 new settlement homes in response to West Bank attack
3 min read
23 February, 2024
Israel has unveiled plans to build thousands of new settlement units in the West Bank which it says comes in response to Thursday's fatal shooting attack.
The settlements are considered illegal under international law, but Israel has vowed to continue building them anyway [Getty]

Israel plans to build more than 3,300 new homes in settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank in response to a fatal shooting attack, a senior cabinet minister said.

The decision is bound to frustrate Washington at a time of growing tensions over the course of Israel's war on the Gaza Strip, and the settlements are considered illegal under international law.

Israel's finance minister, far-right firebrand Bezalel Smotrich, announced the new settlement plans late Thursday, after three Palestinian  gunmen opened fire on cars near the Ma'ale Adumim settlement, killing one Israeli and wounding five.

"The serious attack on Ma'ale Adumim must have a determined security response but also a settlement response," Smotrich wrote on X, formerly Twitter. "Our enemies know that any harm to us will lead to more construction and more development and more of our hold all over the country."

He said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant participated in the discussion. The decision will put in motion approval processes for 300 new homes in the Kedar settlement and 2,350 in Ma'ale Adumim. It will also advance previously approved construction of nearly 700 homes in Efrat.

Once the war in Gaza is over, the Biden administration seeks eventual Palestinian governance in Gaza and the West Bank as a precursor to Palestinian statehood. It's an outcome opposed by Netanyahu and his right-wing government — and pushed farther from view, advocates say, as new settlement plans are advanced.

"Instead of acting in order to prevent future horrible attacks such as of yesterday, the government of Israel is acting to deepen the conflict and the tensions," said Hagit Ofran, from Israeli settlement watchdog group Peace Now.

"The construction in settlements is bad for Israel, distancing us from peace and security," he said.

Consecutive Israeli governments have expanded settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, war-won territories the Palestinians seek for a future state, along with Gaza. Construction has accelerated under Netanyahu’s current right-wing government, which includes settlers, including Smotrich, in key positions.

Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip in the 1967 Mideast war.

Violence has escalated in the West Bank since the deadly October 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel, which the group says came in response to decades of Israeli aggression against the Palestinians and the Gaza siege.

Israel has held the West Bank under a tight grip — limiting movement and conducting frequent raids against what it claims are militant targets. Palestinian health officials say 401 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank during that period.