Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday gave his support to a group of Jewish settlers who were filmed forcefully taking over Palestinian homes in the city of Hebron (Al-Khalil) in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Though Israeli border police removed the settlers from the homes on Friday, Netanyahu on Sunday confirmed that they would be allowed to move into the structures once paperwork for their purported “secret purchase” was complete.
“The government supports the settlements, especially in days like these, when they are under terror attacks,” Netanyahu declared at a weekly cabinet meeting, referring to heightened levels of violence in Hebron.
“The moment that the purchase process [for the confiscated homes] is authorized, we will allow the [settlers to take possession] of the two houses in Hebron,” he added.
Earlier Sunday, local media quoted an Israeli Radio report that the settlers were negotiating with the government for ownership of at least one of the homes and assurances that none of the entryways faced Palestinian neighbours.
On Thursday, a widely-circulated video showed dozens of Israeli settlers forcing open two Palestinian homes in Hebron, drawing the ire of many Palestinians.
The West Bank city is notorious for its heavy Israeli military presence due to long-running tensions between Palestinians and Jewish settlers, who – unlike in most other cities – live in close proximity to one another.
Hebron has been at the epicenter of a months-long wave of violence that has seen more than 160 Palestinians – along with 29 Israelis or foreigners – killed since October 1 of last year.