Israel plans to build 3,300 homes in the West Bank

Israel plans to build more than 3,300 new homes in settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank in response to a fatal Palestinian 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 Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

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 Maale 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.”

PALESTINIAN GUNMEN FIRE ON MOTORISTS IN WEST BANK, KILLING 1, INJURING 5: ISRAEL

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 Maale 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.

A funeral in the West Bank following a Palestinian shooting

Israeli police say three Palestinian gunmen killed Matan Elmaliach, 26, and injured eight others. Israeli police killed two of the gunmen and arrested the third. Elmaliachs relatives mourned him in the West Bank on Feb. 22, 2024.  (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

“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 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 Oct. 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel, which triggered Israel’s war on the militant group.

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Since Oct. 7, Palestinian gunmen have carried out several deadly attacks on Israelis. Israel has held the West Bank under a tight grip — limiting movement and conducting frequent raids against what it says are militant targets. Palestinian health officials say 401 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank during that period.

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