Settlement & Annexation Report: February 16, 2024


Welcome to FMEP’s Weekly Settlement Report, covering everything you need to know about Israeli settlement activity this week.

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February 16, 2024

  1. Tenders Issued for Construction in Geva Binyamin and Karnei Shomron Settlements, Bringing 2024 Total to 523 Tenders
  2. Hebron Settler Council Launches Crowdfunding Campaign for U.S.-Sanctioned Settler & His Illegal Outpost
  3. New Outpost Near the Tekoa Settlement
  4. Israel Has Expedited East Jerusalem Settlement Planning & Home Demolitions in Wake of October 7th
  5. Israel to Pay Immigrants $550/Month to Move to Settlements
  6. East Jerusalem Cable Car Project Stalled as Israel Looks for Construction Company
  7. Settler Population Grew By 3% in 2023
  8. B’Tselem Details “Extreme Restrictions” on 2023 Olive Harvest
  9. Peace Now Launches New Settler Violence Hotline
  10. Israel to Buy 200 Armored Vehicles for Civilan Standby Units, Including in Settlements
  11. Israel Spying on U.S.-PA Settler Violence Channel
  12. News & Analysis of Sanctions on Settlers
  13. Bonus Reads

Tenders Issued for Construction in Geva Binyamin and Karnei Shomron Settlements, Bringing 2024 Total to 523 Tenders

Peace Now reports the Israeli Ministry of Housing published tenders on February 9th for the construction of 60 new settlement units, 12 new units in the Geva Binyamin settlement and 48 in the Karnei Shomron settlement,  located in the northern West Bank, east of the Palestinian village of Qalqilya. Israel has openly declared its intention to continue expanding settlements in this area with the stated goal of bringing 1 million settlers to live in the area. 

These tenders come just five days after the publication of tenders for 62 new units in the Efrat settlement. 

So far in 2024, the Israeli government has issued tenders for the construction of 523 new settlement units in a total of eight settlements.

 Peace Now said in a statement

“The rapid pace and widespread scope of tender publications indicate a clear policy aimed at promoting extensive construction in the West Bank. The Israeli government is capitalizing on the international focus on the Gaza Strip to further entrench Israeli control deep in Palestinian territory, hindering the possibility of a two-state solution.”

Hebron Settler Council Launches Crowdfunding Campaign for U.S.-Sanctioned Settler & His Illegal Outpost

Peace Now reports that the settler municipal body in Hebron (the Har Hevron Regional Council) has launched a crowdfunding campaign to assist Yinon Levy and the illegal outpost he established (“Meitarim Farm”). The campaign was launched in response to the U.S. sanctioning Levy, who is purported to have engaged in violence against Palestinians in the West Bank that lead to the forcible displacement of four nearby Palestinians communities (approximately 300 people). 

Peace Now makes the important point:

“The settlers on whom sanctions were imposed are not the story. Behind every violent settler lies an entire governmental system that supports and funds them. Settler violence is not an isolated incident but rather a part of an organized and financed strategy by the authorities to dispossess Palestinians of their lands in the Occupied Territories, and to undermine any potential political solution.”

Proving that point, the Har Hevron Regional Council’s commitment to Levy and his illegal outpost runs deep. In 2021 a coporation owned by the the municipality awarded Levy a contract to establish the outpost as an agricultural farm and to explicitly take control of the whole area. The contract states [emphasis added]:

 “The Directorate wants the farmer to establish an agricultural farm … that will maintain a presence in the lands of the area and thus help to preserve the state’s lands and the seizure and preservation of the surrounding lands … The farmer will establish on the farm… a corral for the herd and housing residences near it  and necessary additional facilities.” 

New Outpost Near the Tekoa Settlement

Haaretz reports that settlers have undertaken a large-scale project to establish a new outpost near the Tekoa settlement, located south of Bethlehem. Photos of the outpost show that the land has been cleared, roads established, and power lines have been installed. A total of six trailers have been moved to the site already. A Defense source told Haaretz that it is “doubtful that the government will evacuate the outpost, which was built on state-controlled land.”

Israel Has Expedited East Jerusalem Settlement Planning & Home Demolitions in Wake of October 7th

Ir Amim and Bimkom jointly report that Israel has led a “stark rise” in home demolitions in EAst Jerusalem since October 7th and the start of Israel’s latest war on Gaza. The groups write:

“As the war rages on in Gaza, claiming the lives of tens of thousands of Palestinians and displacing nearly two million, Israel adds to the conflagration by accelerating demolitions across East Jerusalem. The recent home demolitions in al-Walaja are part of a major surge in demolitions in East Jerusalem since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, which has likewise profoundly impacted the community of Al Bustan, Silwan. Yesterday, the home of community leader and well-known activist, Fakhri Abu Diab, was demolished despite ongoing negotiations with the Jerusalem municipality and strong international outcry. Some 100 homes in Al Bustan are at risk of mass demolition with over 1500 Palestinians under threat of displacement due to Israeli plans to establish an Israeli tourist and archaeological park in the area

Since October 7, there has been a total of 94 demolitions in East Jerusalem, 63 of which were homes. This marks a nearly 70% increase in demolitions compared to the months preceding the war. Moreover, expected changes in the government ministry responsible for the National Enforcement Unit are likely to cause an even more dramatic rise in demolitions. According to recent news reports, on Sunday, the government is slated to approve the transfer of the National Enforcement Unit from the Ministry of Finance to the Ministry of National Security, placing it under the direct authority of ultranationalist and far-right Minister Itamar Ben Gvir. The transfer of the unit was included in coalition agreements during the formation of the government last year. Over the past year, Ben Gvir has made numerous statements calling for the intensification of demolitions. Such a move is cause for extreme alarm and will directly impact areas of East Jerusalem, including al-Walaja.”

While home demolitions are surging, so too are the advancement of settlement plans. Haaretz has fresh reporting on how Israel is expediting plans to build new settlements across Jerusalem, including Nofei Rachel, Givat HaShaked, Umm Lysoon, and Kidmat Zion. The article surveys the planning processes advancing these plans, including the secret land registration and settler interests involved.

Israel to Pay Immigrants $550/Month to Live in Settlements

The Israeli government announced plans to offer heightened financial incentives to new immigrants who settle in the West Bank, along with areas in the country’s northern and southern peripheries. The plan estimates a $19 million cost to provide $550/month for two years to new immigrants choosing to live in settlements or in the periphery areas, as compared to $100-$200/month for new immigrants living in central Israel or Haifa. These funds are dedicated to subsidizing housing costs.

The plan was announced on February 15th at a joint press conference held by Immigration and Integration Minister Ofir Sofer and Finance Minister Smotrich, who holds immense power in the West Bank in his role as a minister in the Defense Ministry with virtually unchecked authority of Area C civilian matters.

East Jerusalem Cable Car Project Stalled As Israel Looks for Construction Company

Haaretz reports that the Israeli government has struggled for 8 months to secure a qualified (and therefore foreign) construction company to build the settler-backed cable car project. Several companies have pulled out of consideration due to the political sensitivities invovled.

As a reminder, the Jerusalem cable car project is an initiative backed by the powerful, state-backed Elad settler group and advanced by the Israeli Tourism Ministry. 

Emek Shaveh and other non-governmental organizations, including  Who Profits and Terrestrial Jerusalem, have repeatedly challenged (and provided evidence discrediting) the government’s contention that the cable car will serve a legitimate transportation need in Jerusalem, and have clearly enumerated the obvious political drivers behind the plan, the archeological heresies it validates, and the severe negative impacts the cable car project will have on Palestinian residents of Silwan.

Despite lacking a qualified construction firm, Israel has already proceeded to issue 17 orders confiscating privately owned Palestinian land in highly sensitive East Jerusalem neighborhoods to prepare for the construction of the cable car line. Attorney Sami Arshid, who represents the Palestinian residents of Silwan, told Haaretz: 

“This is the most unnecessary project in the history of the city. The residents of Silwan and the Old City, like most experts in Israel and around the world, see it as a serious hazard to the city’s urban heritage. The expropriation of properties and homes will cause severe harm to the residents and this in order to establish a megalomaniacal project that harms the history, urban heritage and landscape of the Old City of Jerusalem and its environs.”

Emek Shaveh told Jerusalem: 

“The cable car is a political project that lacks feasibility and professional justification. Its goal is to strengthen [Jewish] settlement in Silwan and bring tourists to sites run by Elad. A year and a half after the High Court of Justice rejected petitions against the project, a tender has yet to be published, and now it turns out that even commercial companies whose sole purpose is to make money understand that they are better off staying away from this project. At a time when the State of Israel is facing huge deficits, we say frankly that this is a harmful and superfluous project that should be scrapped, the sooner, the better.”

Settler Population Grew By 3% in 2023

A pro-settler organization released data showing that the West Bank settler population increased by nearly 3% in 2023 (not including East Jerusalem). The population now stands at 517,407.

The report also forecasts “excellerated growth” in the aftermath of October 7th, claiming that “Serious cracks have indeed developed in the wall of opposition to Jewish settlement of the West Bank.”

B’Tselem Details “Extreme Restrictions” on 2023 Olive Harvest

In a new report, B’Tselem asserts that Israeli policies restricting the ability of Palestinians to harvest olive trees in the 2023 harvest season has resulted in financial harm to tens of thousands of Palestinian families. Those policies include canceling the allocation of harvest days to farmers whose land falls in Area C (access to which is regulated by the IDF), the closure of gates in the separation barrier that permit Palestinians to access their land in the “seam zone” (the IDF is solely able to open theses gates), and – of course – unmitigated settler violence.

B’Tselem writes:

“The systemic obstruction of the olive harvest this year, augmented by organized settler violence against harvesters and their property, is not unique to this time of war. It is part of Israel’s longstanding violent policy, which aims to cement the apartheid regime in the West Bank and allow continued expansion of settlements. Bezalel Smotrich, who serves as Minister of Finance and Minister in the Ministry of Defense, and MK Tzvi Sukkot, Chair of the Knesset Subcommittee on Judea and Samaria Affairs, have already said “sterile security spaces” should be created near settlements, where Palestinians would be denied entry altogether. This would clear the way for the state to take over this land and use it for its own purposes.

Peace Now Launches New Settler Violence Hotline

Peace Now and Looking Occupation in the Eye have launched a dedicated hotline for Palestinians to report instances of settler violence. The groups reported the new initiative to the U.S. and other governments who have recently issued sanctions against four Israeli settlers believed to have participated in violence against Palestinians in the West Bank. A graphic urging people to report instances of violence says, “we will make sure it gets to the right people in the right places.”

Peace Now said in a statement:

“The state is not doing enough against an organized and dangerous attempt to turn the West Bank into a third front. This unequivocally constitutes terrorism and undermines our national interests, yet it is no longer condemned by the Israeli government. We must change the rules and exert all possible pressure. The lawlessness has ended, and those who harm will pay dearly. We will convey the reports to Israel’s friends and allies worldwide.”

 Looking the Occupation in the Eye said in a statement: 

“For years, we have been active in the occupied territories and have been dealing with terrorism by settlers, complaining to law enforcement authorities but receiving no response. Since October 7th, Jewish lawbreakers have been doing as they please throughout the West Bank, and no one stops them. Like in third-world countries – when a state does not deal with terrorism itself, the big brother across the ocean does it for them. Let’s help stop the process of turning us into a failed, disintegrating, and lawless state.”

Over the past week, many instances of settler violence have been reported on X and in the media. A small sampling includes:

  • Settlers from Yitzhar (including the head of security and several wearing IDF uniforms) perpetrated several attacks on February 12th. The IDF was later deployed to the area but no arrests have been made.
    • Fifteen settlers were filmed attacking Palestinian property in the village of Asira al-Qibliya on February 12th. Settlers set cars on fire, threw stones, and shooting a Palestinians. Three were injured.
    • Settlers were filmed attacking Palestinian property in the village of Madama on February 12th. This followed settlers harassing a farmer and shooting at a tractor.
    • Another group of Yitzhar settlers raided the village of Huwara and set cars on fire there.
  • On February 11th, 15 settlers were documented throwing rocks and tear gassed at Palestinians near the Bazariya junction. A similar event happened last week as well.

Israel to Buy 200 Armored Vehicles for Civilian Standby Units, Including in Settlements

The JNS reports the Israel Defense Ministry has approved the purchase of more than 200 armored vehicles for civilian “standby units” – including the units based in settlements, the Gaza envelope, and on the Lebanon border. The vehicles will be delivered in the coming months.

Speaking about the purchase, the deputy director of the Defense Ministry said:

“Ordering the security vehicles is another step in the large-scale procurement we are undertaking for the standby squads, which also includes weapons and protective equipment.”

Israel Spying on U.S.-PA Settler Violence Channel

+972 Magazine published a report citing Israeli intelligence sources admitting that Israel is actively spying on reports on settler violence from the the Palestinian Authority to the the Office of U.S. Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority (USSC), with the aim of preventing that information from “developing into sanctions.” A source told +972 that “the Israelis are finding themselves embarrassed. The fact that we are being asked to look for the materials indicates that Israel has no good answers.” The source also said, “we’re working to help refute these allegations, or prevent them from developing into sanctions. The political echelon is concerned that all kinds of international moves will be taken that will force Israel to deal with this issue.”

News & Analysis of Sanctions on Settlers

There was an absolute torrent of news and analysis regarding the U.S. sanctions against four Israeli settlers, which the U.K. and France have replicated. 


  • “Scoop: Bibi protests to Biden, criticizes order targeting Israeli settler violence” (Axios)
  • “US could target Israel’s Ben-Gvir, Smotrich in latest sanctions” (The Jerusalem Post)
  • “Israel Fears Additional Western Countries Will Follow Suit in Sanctioning Violent West Bank Settlers” (Haaretz)
  • “Biden urged to include politicians in sanctions on violent Israeli settlers” (The Guardian)
  • France leads EU in sanctioning violent Israeli settlers” (Al-Monitor)
  • “​​France follows UK, U.S. adopting sanctions against 28 ‘violent Israeli settlers’” (i24 News)

Key Analysis

Bonus Reads

  1. Israel’s Crackdown on Hebron” (Jewish Currents)
  2. “Meet the Israelis Who Are Trying to Physically Block the Ethnic Cleansing Unfolding in the West Bank” (Haaretz)
  3. “The special unit recruiting hilltop youth” (Israel Hayom)
  4. “Blinken demands investigation into reported killings of U.S. citizens in West Bank” (Washington Post)
  5. “US investigators visit homes of two Palestinian-American teens killed in the West Bank” (AP)
  6. A Fanatical Israeli Settlement Is Funded by New York Suburbanites” (New Lines)