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Israel ministers call for more WB settlements after shooting

Israel ministers call for West Bank settlement expansion after shooting
2 min read
22 February, 2024
The incident is the latest in a series of violence in the occupied West Bank as Israeli forces conduct aggressive raids on Palestinian towns and cities.
Israeli security forces gather at the scene of a shooting attack on February 22, 2024, next to Maale Adumim settlement [GETTY]

Israeli ministers have called for the expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank after one person was killed and several injured in a shooting near an Israeli settlement on Thursday.

Three gunmen opened fire on cars waiting near the az-Za’ayyem checkpoint on the Route 1 highway between Jerusalem and the large Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, The Times of Israel reported.

Three Palestinian men from villages near Bethlehem were named as the perpetrators by Shin Bet, Israel’s national security agency.

In response to the incident, Israel's far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich called for more settlements - considered illegal under international law - in the West Bank to bolster security for Israelis.

"The serious attack on Ma’ale Adumim must have a decisive security response but also an answer from the settlements," he wrote.

"I demand the prime minister approve the convening of the higher planning council and immediately approve plans for thousands of housing units in Ma’ale Adumim and the entire region."

Ambulance services said a man in his 20s was declared dead at the scene and a further 12 people, including a pregnant woman, were being treated for injuries, according to the report.

Brothers Muhammad Zawahra, 26, Kathem Zawahra, 31, from the village of Ta’amra, and Ahmed Al-Wahsh, 31, from Za’atara were identified as the gunmen by Israeli authorities.

The incident marks just the latest in a series of violence in the occupied West Bank as Israeli forces conduct daily aggressive raids on Palestinian towns and cities across the territory.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir on Thursday called for more civilians to carry guns in the West Bank following the shooting.

He also repeated controversial comments made six months ago, in which he said that the right to life for Jewish people in the West Bank takes precedence over the freedom of movement for Palestinians.

"The right to life for Jewish residents in the West Bank is more important than the freedom of movement for residents of the Palestinian Authority," Ben-Gvir said.

Around 40,000 Jewish settlers live in Ma’ale Adumim which was created following the 1967 war and forms one of many illegal encroachments on Palestinian territory.

Since then, successive Israeli governments have invested in building towns in the West Bank and expelling Palestinians, particularly Bedouin communities, from their native lands.

Approximately 380,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank, according to figures from Israeli human rights group B’tselem.