Israeli settlers have been rampaging through the West Bank this week in an attempt to further occupy Palestinian land and set up illegal colonial outposts.
In a campaign launched by the far-right Nachala movement, which is headed by a Zionist leader named Daniella Weiss, its followers have a mission to spread Jewish settlement outposts throughout the West Bank, and yesterday sought to build at least three of the outposts.
According to the media outlet, Mondoweiss, the settlers operate using the strategy of descending en-masse on different sites allocated to them by the movement’s leadership, where they then set up tents and mobile caravans before declaring it a new settlement.
The Nachala movement had reportedly planned the operations for months by mobilising settlers and fundraising in cities across Israel, as well as gaining support from Israeli officials and political figures.
Such preparation is predicted to have given it the ability to continue to carry out the operations over the coming weeks.
According to the news outlet, The Times of Israel, the movement has already set up 28 of those groups which primarily consist of high school and Yeshiva [Jewish religious school] students.
Although the outposts are similar to official Israeli settlements in the West Bank in that they are both illegal under international law, they lack the pre-approved status and subsidies given by the Israeli government, making the outposts illegal even under Israeli law as they lack permission by Tel Aviv.
According to the NGO, Peace Now, the number of outposts in the West Bank currently outnumber the number of Israeli-approved settlements, with there being 150 outposts and 132 settlements.
Earlier this week, Israeli Defence Minister, Benny Gantz, released a statement condemning the Nachala movement’s initiative, announcing that the military and police are ordered to prevent such operations from taking place and outposts from being erected. In a statement, the Israeli military also said that it is “preparing for roads, checkpoints, and key points in the Judea and Samaria [West Bank] area to maintain security and law and order”.
Despite those warnings and statements, however, videos circulating around social media have shown Israeli security forces suppressing activists and protestors who were demonstrating against the settlers and their outposts.
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The European Union, too, denounced Nachala’s initiative, unsurprisingly stating that it is “concerned” over the consequences it could result in. It acknowledged that “outposts often serve to establish or further expand Israeli settlements and are a potential direct source of increased settler violence against Palestinians.”
That violence has already occurred, even prior to the launch of the movement’s operations. While Nachala activists in the West Bank’s Salfit district conducted scouting and planning activities last month, settlers stabbed and killed a 27-year-old Palestinian man named Ali Harb. More recently, on Tuesday evening, settlers carried out a large-scale attack on the Palestinian village of Burin in the Nablus district, attacking homes and setting fire to land in the village.