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Israeli forces demolish 3 settler outpost structures in Ramallah district

April 27, 2017 6:55 P.M. (Updated: April 27, 2017 6:55 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli Civil Administration reportedly demolished three illegal  outpost structures, erected by Israeli settlers, east of Ramallah city in the central occupied West Bank on Thursday.

Hebrew media reported that Israeli army and civil administration forces demolished the structures that were set up near the illegal Israeli settlement of Nariya. 

While a civil administration spokesperson was not immediately available for comment, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an they would look into reports on the demolitions. 

There are some 196 government recognized Israeli settlements scattered across the Palestinian territory, all considered illegal under international law. And while Israeli outposts are considered illegal even under Israeli domestic law, earlier this year, Israel passed the outpost Regularization law, which paved the way for the retroactive legalization of dozens of Israeli settler outposts.

However, while the Israeli government has been forced to carry out controversial demolitions of Israeli outposts in the past, most notably the demolition of the Amona outpost earlier this year, the government at the same time has fast-tracked the expansion of official Israeli settlements throughout the Palestinian territory. 
 
Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu established a new official Israeli settlement for the first time in 20 years in the Ramallah district. Israeli daily Haaretz reported at the time that the settlement was part of a “promise” Netanyahu gave to Israeli settlers of the Amona outpost as they were facing court-sanctioned demolitions after building on private Palestinian land.

On Saturday, an Israeli established a new settler outpost on Palestinian lands in Ramallah on the outskirts of the existing illegal Adam settlement, also known as Geva Binyamin. 

Israeli watchdog Peace Now noted at the time that the outpost was the first to be established since the Israeli government declared a new policy towards settlement construction, that notably stated that construction should be limited to within the “built-up area” or "the footprint" of an existing settlement, and that creation of new illegal outposts would be prohibited.

While the Israeli government typically maintains that the Israeli settlers erecting the outposts act independently from government policy, the outposts tend to be strategic in their location in the West Bank and often times serve as corridors between existing official settlements in order to create facts on the ground and more easily expand the settlements in the future. 
 
A report released in December by Israeli rights group B’Tselem highlighted the “key role” of Israeli settlers in further isolating Palestinians from their lands, either through the establishment of outposts officially unrecognized by the Israeli government, or through the regular use of violence or threats of violence against Palestinians.

B’Tselem argued that settlers acted as “envoys” of Israel in pushing land grabs in the occupied Palestinian territory, allowing the government to officially detach themselves from the settlers’ violent and illegal actions, while avoiding or blocking any legal penalties that could be imposed on the settlers, except in the most extreme of cases.

"The state helps settlers operate as a mechanism for dispossession in Palestinian space -- settlers serving as a means purportedly not under state control, and settlers also use serious violence against Palestinian residents,” the group explained. 
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