Israelis reportedly restarted a controversial outpost settlement in the occupied West Bank on Monday and are already building a structure there that has attracted attention from around the world.
At the northern West Bank location, construction of a movable building began with the use of a vehicle, diggers, and an earth roller.
Israeli soldiers were guarding about 20 people doing construction work at the Homesh site, which Israel evacuated over twenty years ago, according to AFP journalists.
The most recent development comes after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office assured the public that his administration had no plans to rebuild the site following a parliamentary vote on the subject drew criticism from other countries.
Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s national security minister and an extreme-right settler, welcomed it as a “moving historic event.”
A portion of a rule that prohibited Jews from residing in West Bank areas Israel evacuated in 2005, the same year Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip, was partially overturned by lawmakers in a vote in March.
“The government has no intention of establishing new communities in these areas,” Netanyahu’s office said in March.
Since the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel has been occupying the West Bank militarily.
When approached by AFP over their involvement in the events Monday in Homesh, neither the army nor the defense ministry offered any comments.
When AFP journalists tried to speak with the site’s residents, they declined.
The major ally of Israel, the United States, expressed its “grave concern” about the Israeli government’s decree allowing its nationals to establish a permanent presence in the Homesh settlement this month.
Israeli settlements established in the Palestinian territory are viewed as illegitimate and an obstacle to peace by Washington and the larger international community.
In a statement last week, the European Union called on Israel to “stop the policy of settlement construction” and denounced the rise in settler violence against Palestinians.