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Israel to advance 6,000 housing units in Judea and Samaria

The total number of approvals this year is expected to surpass that of 2023, when a record 12,349 units were advanced.

Construction of new buildings in the Israeli community of Elkana in Samaria, August 21, 2019. Photo by Ben Dori/Flash90.
Construction of new buildings in the Israeli community of Elkana in Samaria, August 21, 2019. Photo by Ben Dori/Flash90.

The Israeli government is advancing the approval of 6,016 housing units in dozens of towns throughout Judea and Samaria, the Supreme Planning Council of the Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration said on Tuesday.

The body was set to meet on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the advancement of the building plans, some 2,400 of which were expected to receive final approval, Israel’s Channel 12 News broadcaster reported.

Among the projects on the agenda of the Supreme Planning Council is an initial request for 1,006 permits to expand Gevaot, near Alon Shvut in Gush Etzion, which currently consists of only a few dozen homes.

Towns expected to receive final permission include Immanuel (424 units), Mitzpe Yericho (365), Beitar Illit (312), Nokdim (290), Givat Ze’ev (228), Elon Moreh (186), Eli (152), Kiryat Arba (140), Almon (91), Etz Efraim (73), Tzofim (74), Ganei Modi’in (46), Metzad (six) and Shaare Tikvah (six).

Late last month, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich called for a series of measures to strengthen the Jewish state’s hold on Judea and Samaria in response to the Palestinians’ push for unilateral statehood and support for the International Criminal Court case against Israel.

Smotrich, who also has authority over civilian matters in Judea and Samaria, demanded the approval of 10,000 new housing units and the establishment of a new town for each country that recognizes “Palestine.”

Israel’s Security Cabinet reportedly signed off on Smotrich’s proposals during a meeting on Thursday night, approving the demanded building permits and moving to regularize the status of five outposts: Evyatar, Givat Asaf and Sde Efrayim in Samaria, and Adorayim and Heletz in Judea.

The decision was praised by Yesha Council chief Israel Ganz, who credited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with “making history, which is an integral part of the victory that the Jewish people need.” He also thanked Smotrich, “who led the big move with skill and wisdom.”

In March, the Supreme Planning Council approved the construction of 3,500 new housing units in three Judea communities in the wake of a deadly Feb. 22 terrorist shooting near the city of Ma’ale Adumim.

Local media noted that 2024 is on track to be a historic year for construction in Judea and Samaria. The total number of approvals is expected to surpass 2023, when a record of 12,349 units were advanced.

However, most building projects have been stalled since Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre in southern Israel and the subsequent decision by authorities to bar Palestinian construction workers from entering Jewish towns.

“Last week, we brought to the cabinet for approval five communities in strategic areas, among them the town of Evyatar, and we are now adding the approval of thousands of housing units,” Smotrich said on Tuesday.

The minister described the moves in Judea and Samaria as a “combined and massive operation aimed at thwarting a Palestinian state.”

‘Stop the impending destruction’

In related news, Israeli security forces on Wednesday morning clashed with Jewish residents of Samaria during the demolition of an outpost that authorities claimed was built on privately owned Palestinian land.

According to Ynet, some 500 Border Police officers were dispatched to evacuate the residents of Tzur Harel, located in the Binyamin region of southern Samaria. When the forces arrived, rioters reportedly threw Molotov cocktails, burned tires and set a vehicle on fire.

Reports said Route 60, the main north-south highway in Judea and Samaria, was blocked in the direction of Jerusalem due to the riots.

Families living at the outpost, which was named after an Israel Defense Forces reservist who fell in combat in the northern Gaza Strip earlier this year, accused Smotrich of having failed to stop the demolition.

“We urge you to immediately exercise your authority and stop the impending destruction,” residents told Ynet, adding that “attempts to tear apart and destroy parts of our sacred land will be met with determined protest by those who love the land and are called to defend it, willing to sacrifice themselves for the sanctity of our ancestral land.”

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