The war in Gaza drives increase in settlers in the West Bank
In 2023, the population increased by 3%, from just over 502,000 to 517,407. A figure that reaches 15% if the last five years are taken into account. And the conflict in the Strip is set to accelerate further. At this rate, 600,000 by 2030.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - The population of Jewish settlers in the West Bank grew by 3% in 2023, rising from 502,991 to 517,407 the previous year and recording a further increasing trend since the start of Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza, in response to the October 7 attack.
This is what emerges in a report released yesterday by the pro-employment movement WestBankJewishPopulationStats.com, according to which the figure reaches 15% taking into consideration the last five years, with 2022 representing a "milestone" for overcoming the million.
The report predicts a further "acceleration" in "growth" for 2024 and the years to come, also in relation to the Hamas attack on October 7 in southern Israel and its 1200 victims, which sparked the war in the Strip already source of over 28 thousand deaths among Palestinians.
According to the report, in fact, the conflict has convinced many Israelis who previously opposed the construction of settlements in occupied lands to change their position. “Serious cracks have actually been created - explains a note - in the wall of those who oppose Jewish settlements in the West Bank”.
Israel has occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem (and the Strip) since 1967, territories which today host a large number of settlements and outposts considered illegal by international law and an obstacle to peace, as well as representing for the Palestinians the lands of a future independent state.
The study by the pro-settler movement predicts that if the growth rate of the last five years continues, the settler population in the West Bank will exceed 600 thousand units before 2030. The data does not include the population count of East Jerusalem, where more than 200,000 Israelis live in settlements that the Jewish state considers neighborhoods of its capital.
Israel's government is dominated by settler leaders and supporters, according to another study of peace movements certifying an escalation of settler and extremist attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank. An exponential growth that B'tselem and Peace Now have defined as "the other side" of the war in Gaza.
The Israeli watchdog group Terrestrial Jerusalem also adds that since the start of Israel's war in the Strip, at least three plans for new settlements have been approved or are about to be approved in East Jerusalem. The NGO defined the speed of the settlement approval processes in recent months as "frantic", contributing to increasing the spiral of violence in the West Bank in the silence of international public opinion focused on the war in Gaza.
Palestinian Health Ministry sources say at least 391 Palestinians died as victims of Israeli fire in the West Bank during this period, most during army operations. But it's not just the military who kill: according to the Israeli pro-rights group Yesh Din, settlers killed nine Palestinians in the first month and a half of the war alone, with at least 225 episodes of violence at the hands of Israeli civilians.
(Photo taken from Wikipedia)