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Israel approves three wildcat settlement outposts in West Bank — watchdog

By AFP - Jul 05,2024 - Last updated at Jul 05,2024

RUSALEM — Israel approved three wildcat settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, the Peace Now watchdog said, calling it a new stage in the "annexation" of the territory.

The Israeli agency which organises West Bank construction recognised outposts in Mahane Gadi, Givat Han and Kedem Arava on the edge of existing settlements, Peace Now said. It also approved 5,295 extra homes in dozens of existing settlements.

All of Israel's settlements in the West Bank, occupied since 1967, are considered illegal under international law, regardless of whether they have Israeli planning permission.

Dozens of unauthorised settlements have sprung up in the territories — ranging from a few tents grouped together to prefabricated huts that have been linked to public electricity and water supplies.

Excluding annexed east Jerusalem, some 490,000 Israeli settlers now live in the West Bank alongside some three million Palestinians. Far-right parties in Israel's governing coalition have pressed for an acceleration of settlement expansion.

The latest approvals "underscore the annexation occurring in the West Bank", Peace Now said.

“Our government continues to change the rules of the game in the occupied West Bank, leading to irreversible harm,” said the leading watchdog of events in the occupied territories.

With tensions in the West Bank already heightened by the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, Peace Now said: “This annexationist government severely undermines the security and future of both Israelis and Palestinians, and the cost of this recklessness will be paid for generations to come.”

Since the start of the Gaza war, violence between Palestinians and Israeli troops and settlers has intensified.

At least 561 Palestinians have been killed, according to an AFP tally. At least 16 Israelis, including soldiers, have been killed over the same period.

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