Settlements

Just in 2022, 28,208 units were advanced in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, compared to 22,030 in 2021, representing almost a 30% increase. In particular the advancement of settlement units in East Jerusalem contributed to this unprecedented number. In 2022, 23,5861 units were advanced in East Jerusalem, compared to 4,427 in the West Bank. The advancement, in 2022, in particular of the settlements and settlement plans in East Jerusalem are a serious cause of concern. If constructed, they would disconnect East Jerusalemites from major West Bank urban areas, such as Bethlehem and Ramallah, having serious implications on Palestinian urban contiguity and posing a serious threat to a viable two-state solution.

As of January 2023, there are 144 Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including 12 in East Jerusalem. In total, there are an estimated 622,670 settlers in the West Bank30 excluding East Jerusalem, with an additional 220,000 Jewish settlers residing in East Jerusalem. Israeli outposts, which are illegal even by Israeli law, rise to over 100 in the West Bank, and their population is hard to establish. In 2021, settlers made up 14% of the West Bank population (465.400) while Palestinians made up 86% (2.814.000). Settlers constitute 4,9% of the Israeli population31.

Since occupying the West Bank in 1967, Israel has misappropriated more than 2 million dunams 200,000 hectares) of land there for its own purposes, including building and expanding settlements and paving roads for settlers. Some areas have been officially taken over by the state, others through daily acts of settler violence. These two seemingly unrelated tracks are both forms of state violence: the Israeli apartheid regime and its representatives actively aid and abet the settlers’ violence as part of a strategy to cement the takeover of Palestinian land. The violent acts include beating, throwing stones, issuing threats, torching fields, destroying trees and crops, stealing crops, damaging homes and cars, blocking roads, using live fire, and, in rare cases, killing. Settlers from so-called farms violently chase Palestinian farmers and shepherds away from their fields, and from pastureland and water sources they have used for generations. They initiate violent altercations on a daily basis and use drones to scare flocks belonging to Palestinians into scattering. State violence – official and otherwise – is part and parcel of Israel’s apartheid regime, which aims to create a Jewish-only space between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea 32.

Settler Attacks on Palestinians usually remain un-investigated, mainly due to the law enforcement’s lack of will to deter or penalize such incidents. As Yesh Din reports, between 2005 and 2022, 93% of police investigations into these attacks were closed without indictments. 33