Dozens of illegal settlements and settlement neighborhoods, which were built without explicit government approval, will for the first time receive security assistance from the Defense Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces.
Up to 70 of these settlements, neighborhoods and outposts will benefit from the decision and can receive security equipment, including mobile information gathering and warning systems, mobile lighting systems, announcement, firefighting equipment and other components.
The decision was announced by the IDF on Thursday following “staff work carried out over the past year by the IDF’s Central Command in cooperation with the Defense Ministry.” .
Settler organizations welcomed the decision, saying Israelis living in these areas are entitled to security measures like any other citizen.
Left-leaning politicians and organizations, however, denounced the new policy, saying illegal settlements should be demolished and not protected.
Many settlements in the West Bank were established in the 1990s and early 2000s, with the help of different ministries, including the Ministry of Housing and Construction, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Energy, but without formal government approval.
Many of these unauthorized settlements are now well-established communities, but have not been eligible for security aid, nor to be connected to water, electricity and other infrastructure, because they have never received formal authorization from the government.
The Forum for Young Settlements, an organization representing unauthorized settlements, estimates that there are around 25,000 residents of these outposts.
Until now, many of these illegal outposts have relied on municipal and regional authorities from nearby authorized settlements to get their security services to the unauthorized outposts.
The Forum for Young Settlements described Thursday’s decision as “an important step towards full clearance”, although it added that such provisions are long overdue.
“We are pleased that two years after Defense Minister Benny Gantz visited the ‘young colonies’ and after our hard work and repeated requests, he has finally decided that it is no longer possible to implement endangering our lives and those of our children,” the forum said in response to the ruling.
Shlomo Vaknin, the security coordinator for the Yesha Council umbrella organization of settlement authorities, also described the measure as “a significant change that will correct a historic injustice that has been done to young settlement residents who deserve protection like any other citizen in the State of Israel.
Vaknin thanked the commander of IDF Central Command, Major General. Yehuda Fuchs and Nochi Mandel, head of the Department of Defense’s settlements department, for accepting requests for security assistance from the Yesha Council for unauthorized settlements.
Meretz MK Mossi Raz, however, denounced the decision, tweeting: “The job of the IDF is not to defend those who break the law by establishing illegal outposts.
And the anti-settlement organization Peace Now similarly said, “Illegal outposts need to be dismantled, not secured.”
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