In the wake of a deadly attack in late June in a West Bank settlement, the Israeli government said Sunday it will expand the hardline Jewish enclave in occupied Palestinian territory where the killing took place. The security cabinet approved $13 million for social and education programs “in order to make it easier” for residents “to deal with the effects of the security situation and minimize its impact on the daily routine.”
The plan, described as “strengthening community resilience” is focused on improving quality of life in the Kiyrat Arba settlement, home to nearly 8,000 of the 500,000 Israelis residing in the occupied West Bank. Funding will support education, social, and welfare programs, the construction of a sports facility, home renovations, a park, and a synagogue, and marketing for an industrial zone in development.
“Underlying this decision considerations were made regarding the unique security situation prevailing in communities with the highest threat level in Judea and Samaria,” the security cabinet announced.
The scheme did not include a budget for increased security or military personnel.
The Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now said the funding into the occupied Palestinian territory was a backdoor policy to building up settlements which could compromise a future agreement with Palestinians, under the cover of responding to the recent bout of violence. “There is no freeze, not in planning and not in construction” to settlements, said the group.
“By transferring millions of Shekels to Hebron and Kiryat Arba Netanyahu prioritizes the most extreme settlements, that will never be in Israel as a part of an agreement, over the rest of Israel’s citizens, and shows, yet again, that he is not truly interested in a two state solution,” Peace Now said.
On June 30, Kiyrat Arba resident Hallel Yaffa Ariel, 13, was killed while sleeping in her bedroom by a 17-year old Palestinian from the nearby village of Bani Na’im. A day later a 48-year-old Israeli was killed in a shooting on a highway in the West Bank in the same area. The man’s wife and child were also injured, and treated by a Palestinian couple who were the first to arrive at the scene.
At the start of July Israeli soldiers cordoned off the main entrances to more than 20 Palestinian villages with roadblocks, and sealed the southern route into the city of Hebron. This quarter of the West Bank has long been a flashpoint for tensions, but over recent months it has been the site of many violent confrontations.
Since last October Palestinians have killed 35 Israelis, and Israeli forces and civilians have killed more than 200 Palestinians. In recent months the majority of the deadly encounters occurred in and near Hebron in the occupied West Bank.
From January 2016 to present date, Peace Now said Israel approved 1,823 new residential settlement units, of which 314 were illegal outposts granted retroactive licenses.