At least 16 unauthorised Israeli settlement "outposts" have been established since 2017, a new Peace Now report has revealed, with authorities not only turning a blind eye to the expansion but even at times helping to retroactively "legalise" the outposts.
Israel makes a distinction between official and unofficial settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt); under international law, all settlements in the oPt are illegal.
According to Peace Now, a total of 31 such outposts have been established from 2012-2019.
Haaretz newspaper, reporting on the data, said its journalists visited all of the new outposts "over the past few weeks", and found that most "are various kinds of farms".
The outposts are located all over the occupied West Bank, "from the regional council in the southern Hebron Hills to the northern West Bank, the Jordan Valley, Mateh Binyamin Regional Council and Gush Etzion."
As well as small outposts established by right-wing youth, some outposts "are stronger and better connected", with the regional councils "directly behind some of them". These outposts "are growing stronger and receive the de facto protection of the authorities," Haaretz said.
Although none are legal, all were established on so-called "state land", land in the oPt designated by Israeli occupation authorities as under its control.
Haaretz noted that "some of these outposts have indeed been issued demolition orders, but they are still standing", adding that "illegal construction on state land can be retroactively legalized by the state".
Shabtay Bendet, who heads the settlement monitoring team of Peace Now, said: "The two-faced conduct of the government of Israel with regard to illegal settlements continues at full pace."
"More and more illegal outposts are being established at full pace in the depths of the West Bank. The law enforcement authorities ignore the theft of land and legalize that which is illegal, without government approval as required and without public discussion of the matter."