The Israeli authorities approved the construction of new settlement units in the illegal Israeli settlement of Efrat, in southern Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.
Activist Hassan Breijieh said today that Israeli settlers of Efrat rejected a plan, previously approved by the Israeli civil Administration's Higher Planning Council, to construct 40 new housing units in the settlement and demanded the construction of 106 units; their demand has been approved by the council.
Breijieh pointed out that settlement expansion will be at the expense of those landowners and farmers of the Al-Khader and Artas villages in southern Bethlehem district.
All settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law however their construction and expansion have been pursued as a policy by the State of Israel since it occupied the territory in the 1967 Six Day War, along with the Gaza Strip, Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula. Israeli human rights organisation B'Tselem states that, as of the end of 2015, there were 127 Israeli government-sanctioned settlements in the West Bank (not including occupied East Jerusalem and Hebron). When combined with 100 non-recognised outposts and 15 Israeli neighbourhoods inside the Jerusalem Municipality, these settlements are inhabited by approximately half a million illegal settlers.