UN says that the expansion of Israeli settlements is a “war crime”

Reports this week that Israel plans to build nearly 3,500 settler homes in three areas “flagrantly violate international law”, according to the UN.

The expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank constitutes a war crime under international law and threatens to eliminate any practical possibility of a viable Palestinian state, warned Volker Türk, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, on Friday.

Türk presented a report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, denouncing the addition of 24,300 family homes to Israeli settlements in the West Bank between November 1, 2022, and October 31, 2023, the highest number since the counting began in 2017. Türk stated that such transfers constitute a war crime, and individuals involved may face individual criminal responsibility.

The report also highlighted an increase in violent acts against Palestinians in the area following the terrorist attack by the Islamist group Hamas in Israel on October 7. At least 603 confirmed cases occurred in the last five months, resulting in the deaths of at least 405 people, with 396 killed by Israeli security forces and nine by settlers’ gunfire.

The attacks forcibly displaced 1,222 Palestinians from their homes, including 592 whose houses were demolished, claiming a lack of construction permits, which are nearly impossible to obtain, according to the report.

“The violence and abuses by settlers have reached new and alarming levels, posing a danger to any practical possibility of establishing a viable Palestinian state,” Türk emphasized. “Israel’s actions against the Palestinian population must cease immediately. The only viable path is a peaceful solution that ends the occupation, establishes a Palestinian state, and ensures the fulfillment of the fundamental rights of its population,” he underscored.

Regarding the construction of new homes, the UN Human Rights Office’s report came two days after Israeli authorities advanced the approval process for building around 3,476 new settler homes in three West Bank settlements: 694 in Efrat, 2,452 in Ma’ale Adumim, and 330 in Kedar.

According to the news agency EFE, these new permits were issued as retaliation for an attack on February 22 in Ma’ale Adumim, where three armed Palestinians opened fire near a military checkpoint near Jerusalem, killing an Israeli and injuring eleven others.

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich commented on the construction of new houses on the social media platform X. “Alongside building permits, we are making a massive investment in the development of transportation infrastructure, employment, and quality of life. Enemies try to hurt and weaken, but we will continue building,” stated the anti-Arab politician, noting that Israel granted 18,515 new construction permits for settlers in the West Bank since last year.

The Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected the Israeli decision, stating in a press release that “settlements are illegitimate and illegal according to international law and constitute a factor in the continuation of the conflict and the cycle of wars and violence, as well as a threat to the security and stability of the region.” The ministry called for international sanctions against the entire racist colonial settlement system and the imposition of sanctions on Smotrich and Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir.

The European Union also condemned the housing construction, stating in a press release, “It is entirely inconsistent with efforts to reduce tensions in the current conflict in Gaza.” The EU called on the Israeli government to urgently reverse its decision and insisted that settlements are illegal under international law.

Share this news
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments