In retaliation for Rabi’s death, Netanyahu to approve expansion of the Har Bracha settlement

PNN / Bethlehem

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Chief of Staff, Yoav Horowitz, visited the Har Bracha settlement outside of Nablus on Monday, offering his condolences to the family of Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal who was killed in a knife attack last week by promising to approve settlement expansion as retaliation for the attack.

Horowitz addressed calls made by Ben-Gal’s family as well as those from Yossi Dagan, head of the regional council that administers the occupied territories and settlements in the region of Samaria – areas of northern Palestine including Nablus.

‘The terrorist, who is, at the moment hiding in Shechem (Nablus) should know that because he killed a Jew, there will be 800 housing units here. This is our request,’ said Dagan, according to Arutz Sheva.

‘We are sitting and assessing when we will be able to expand this settlement. It is before our eyes, before (the) prime minister’s eyes all the time,’ said Horowitz during his visit.

“I know the plan well, and we will do everything possible to realise it as soon as possible.”

Har Bracha is situated 23 kilometres beyond the Green Line, well beyond the pre-1967 borders, and presents a logistical challenge in terms of security and administration for the IOF.

Should the legitimization and expansion of the Har Bracha settlement be approved it would be the second settlement to receival such approval in as many weeks.

Last week the Havat Gilad settlement, also in the region outside of Nablus, was approved for further expansion, or for the creation of a new settlement, by the Israeli government after the death of Rabbi Raziel Shevah.

The recent string of attacks has hardened the rhetoric of many Israeli politicians, including Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel who called for better protection for settlements in the region, but has also drawn the ire of some members of the Israel press.

Last week, in response to a tweet by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy produced an editorial for the left-wing paper in which he criticised Friedman whose tweet lamented the use of a donated ambulance in the death of Rabi Ben-Gal rather than to ‘deliver happy babies’.

Levy responded by calling Har Bracha a ‘mountain of curses’ and accused the Ambassador of perpetuating destructive policies of settlement building in the occupied territories.

Ambassador Friedman responded to the article on Twitter, criticising Haaretz, saying ‘What has become of Haaretz?… Have they no decency?’

Haaretz’s publisher Amos Schocken defended the piece on Twitter, saying;

‘Mr. Ambassador Gideon Levy is right. As long as the policy of Israel that your Government and yourself support is obstructing peace process, practical annexation of the territories, perpetuating apartheid, fighting terror but willing to pay its price, there will be more Shivas.’