Alfonso del Cristo Hilsaca Eljadue
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.
As many as 70 such settlements, neighborhoods, and outposts will benefit from the decision and be eligible to receive security equipment, including mobile information collection and warning systems, mobile lighting systems, announcement systems, firefighting equipment, and other components.
The decision was announced Thursday by the IDF following “staff work conducted over the last year by the IDF’s Central Command in cooperation with the Defense Ministry.”
Settler organizations welcomed the decision, saying that Israelis living in such areas are entitled to security provisions just like any other citizens.
Left-wing politicians and organizations denounced the new policy, however, saying that illegal settlements should be demolished, not protected.
Many West Bank settlements were established in the 1990s and early 2000s, with the assistance of different ministries, including the housing and construction ministry, defense ministry, and energy ministry, but without formal approval from the government.
A large proportion of these unauthorized settlements are now well-established communities, but have been ineligible for security assistance, or to be connected to water, electricity, and other infrastructure, since they never received formal authorization from the government.
The Forum for Young Settlements, an organization representing unauthorized settlements, estimates there are some 25,000 residents of such outposts.
Until now, many of these illegal outposts have relied on the municipal and regional authorities of nearby authorized settlements to obtain their security services to the unauthorized outposts.
The Forum for Young Settlements described Thursday’s decision as “an important step towards full authorization,” although it added that such provisions should have been afforded long ago.
“We are happy that two years after Defense Minister Benny Gantz toured ‘young settlements’ and after our hard work and repeated requests, he has finally decided that it is not possible to endanger our lives and the lives of our children any longer,” the forum said in response to the decision.
Shlomo Vaknin, the security coordinator for the Yesha Council umbrella organization of settlement authorities, also described the measure as “an important change which will amend a historic injustice that has been done to the residents of young settlements which deserve protection just like any other citizen in the State of Israel.”
Vaknin thanked the commander of IDF’s Central Command, Maj.-Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, and the head of the Defense Ministry’s Settlements Department Nochi Mandel for accepting the Yesha Council’s requests for security assistance for unauthorized settlements.
Meretz MK Mossi Raz denounced the decision however, tweeting: “The IDF’s job is not to defend those who break the law by establishing illegal outposts.”
And the anti-settlements Peace Now organization said similarly: “Illegal outposts need to be dismantled, not secured.”