Israel has been exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to expand illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and apply its sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea area, the National Office for the Defence of Land and Resistance of Settlement has said.
The body which is affiliated with the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) explained that the Israeli government intends to link the Israeli settlements around the occupied city of Jerusalem using a light railway.
The report quoted the Arab Centre for Alternative Planning as saying that Israel is planning to construct two railways linking the Jewish communities with the Al-Aqsa Mosque, pointing out that one of them will be an underground line which connects West Jerusalem with the Mughrabi Gate which leads to the Muslim holy site.
The West Jerusalem municipality has recently revealed that it will construct 410 new settlement units as well as public facilities and a hotel in Jabal Al-Mukaber neighbourhood, south of Jerusalem, and link the new neighbourhood to the railway network.
According to the report, the plan also includes building thousands of new housing units and public facilities in settlements around the occupied city.
Senior Palestinian figures in Jerusalem have recently warned of an Israeli plan to use the coronavirus infections in East Jerusalem as a pretext to close the area and quietly carry out the "ethnic and demographic cleansing" of the Palestinians from a number of neighbourhoods.