BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli settlers on Sunday reportedly set up five illegal structures, described by locals as “caravans,” on lands belonging to the village of al-Khader south of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank.
Ahmad Salah, coordinator of the Anti-Settlement Committee in the village, told Ma’an that a group of settlers set up the new caravans in an attempt to expand the existing illegal outpost of Sde Boaz, built in the Wadi al-Ghawit area of al-Khader.
Salah highlighted that Israeli authorities have been building a network of settler roads on the private lands of al-Khader in recent months. Most of the roads, he said, were dirt roads, though some were asphalted. Salah added that the network spanned nearly all the way to the nearby village of Nahhalin.
A spokesperson from the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli agency responsible for enforcing the Israeli government’s policies in the West Bank, told Ma’an that “The trailers built in al-Khader are illegal and lacking the necessary permits from the authorities. Enforcement steps will take place against them according to the procedures.”
Since the occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 1967, between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis have moved into Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, in violation of international law.
The estimated 196 government recognized Israeli settlements scattered across the Palestinian territory are all considered illegal under international law.
Meanwhile, although Israeli settler outposts — unapproved by the Israeli government — are considered illegal even under Israeli law, earlier this year, Israel passed the outpost Regularization law, which would pave the way for the retroactive legalization of dozens of Israeli settler outposts.