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Israel/OPT: Flurry of settlement activity shows flagrant disregard for international law

The Israeli authorities’ authorization of the construction of 3,000 further illegal settlement homes in the occupied West Bank today - the fourth such announcement within weeks - highlights their shocking willingness to flout international law, said Amnesty International. 

In the weeks prior to this the Israeli authorities announced plans to build 3,219 more homes in the occupied West Bank including 719 homes in East Jerusalem. All the announcements have come since the inauguration of US President Donald J. Trump, a staunch ally of Israel’s current government.

“Since the start of 2017 the Israeli authorities have made clear that they plan to accelerate the construction of illegal settlement homes and seize further Palestinian territory in flagrant violation of international law,” said Magdalena Mughrabi Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa. 

“The flurry of recent announcements signals that the Israeli government, emboldened by the Trump administration, feels no need to hide its brazen violations of the rights of the occupied Palestinian population.

The flurry of recent announcements signals that the Israeli government, emboldened by the Trump administration, feels no need to hide its brazen violations of the rights of the occupied Palestinian population
Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International

“The push to increase the number of settlement homes in a year that marks the 50th anniversary of Israel’s occupation also flies in the face of a UN Security council resolution passed last December calling on Israel to cease all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

In total, since the start of the year the Israeli authorities have announced the construction 6,219 new housing units in settlements.

Next week the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, is also due to vote on a bill that would retroactively legalize an Israeli grab of Palestinian land that could apply to up to 16 West Bank settlements.

Israel’s policy of settling Jewish civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories violates international humanitarian law, amounts to war crimes. It is also inherently discriminatory and has resulted in grave human rights violations including the destruction of homes, forced evictions, unlawful killings, arbitrary detentions and collective punishment.

Eviction at Amona

Today’s announcement was made hours before Israeli security forces began an operation to remove more than 300 Jewish settlers from the illegal West Bank outpost of Amona after Israel’s Supreme Court ruled it was built on private Palestinian land and must be evacuated by 8 February. There have been reports of violence and police injuries during the evacuation.

“The evacuation of Amona, which was illegally built on Palestinian land more than 20 years ago, is a welcome move, but the Israeli authorities must ensure that security forces do not use excessive force against settlers and their supporters.

The authorities must also ensure that settlers are not permitted to re-occupy the land and that access to it is granted to the Palestinian owners,” said Magdalena Mughrabi.