26,000 settlement units approved by Israel in 4 years

An official Palestinian report showed today, Saturday, that Israel has doubled plans to approve settlement expansion since the issuance of a UN Security Council resolution condemning settlements and calling for its cessation.

The report issued by the National Office for Defending Land and Resisting Settlements of the Liberation Organization said that Israel approved the construction of 26,331 housing units in settlements between 2017 to 2020, compared to 10,331 units in the period from 2013 to 2016.

The report indicated that this escalation in settlement expansion followed Security Council Resolution 2334, adopted on December 23, 2016, which urged an end to Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories.

The aforementioned resolution at the time stipulated Israel's demand to stop settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the illegality of Israel's establishment of settlements in the land occupied since 1967.

The report said that the period following the issuance of the Security Council resolution did not witness a slowdown in the pace of settlements, "on the contrary, settlement plans increased and invaded the Palestinian land without accountability or punishment."

He added that the past years witnessed dozens of settlement plans in the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem, and infrastructure projects for settlements, such as the new settlement bypass roads, sewage projects, and the construction of more settlement outposts, the number of which exceeded more than 280 settlements and outposts until 2021.

The report pointed out that “with this increase in settlement plans and activities, settler violence has also increased and reached unprecedented levels.”

The first ten months of this year witnessed 410 attacks by settlers against Palestinians (302 against property and 108 against individuals), while the year 2020 witnessed a total of 358 recorded attacks, and 335 attacks during 2019, according to the report.

He stated that "these figures do not reflect the whole truth, as 40% of the Palestinians who are exposed to settler violence chose not to file complaints with the Israeli authorities because they do not expect justice to be served."

He pointed out that the Israeli authorities closed about 91% of the investigation files into settler attacks against Palestinians between 2005 and 2019 without bringing any charges.

The report said that “instead of the Israeli authorities taking on the legitimate domestic and international concern about the high crime rate at the hands of settlers, they decided to protect the settlers’ madness by changing the regulations on shooting Palestinians.”

He added that the Israeli army's issuance of lenient instructions to its soldiers a few days ago to open fire on Palestinians during the demonstrations "represents a green light to commit more field executions against Palestinians who are defending their lands in the face of settlers' attacks."

The Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem said that Israeli forces do not use shooting in the West Bank under special circumstances, but rather as a "routine procedure", even without the targets posing a threat to these forces.

Palestinian statistics show that, since the beginning of this year, 84 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli army (79 males and five females), including seven cases of targeting and killing at military checkpoints in the Palestinian territories.

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