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Israel plans to 'legalise' illegal West Bank settlement of Havat Gilad

ISRAEL plans to “legalise” the illegal settlement of Havat Gilad, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today, in response to the drive-by shooting of one of its residents.

“Whoever thought that, through the reprehensible murder of a resident of Havat Gilad, a father of six, that our spirit can be broken and we can be weakened is making a bitter mistake,” he told ministers.

The settlement near Nablus was not previously recognised officially by Israel, unlike about 120 other West Bank settlements that have fragmented Palestine and starve Palestinian communities of energy and water resources. All are illegal under international law, which prohibits the colonisation of occupied territory.

Campaign group Peace Now said the decision was a “cynical exploitation of the murder.”

Rabbi Raziel Shevah was shot last month from a passing car. Israeli troops looking for his killer were conducting arrests in the Jenin area over the weekend. In a confrontation between soldiers and stone-throwing youths, 19-year-old Ahmad Abu-Obeid shot dead.

Israel also demolished a school built with EU aid money in a West Bank Bedouin community yesterday, claiming it did not have appropriate permits. The children were forced to attend classes in a nearby barber’s shop.

Israel began issuing deportation notices to African refugees yesterday.

It is offering refugees from Eritrea and Sudan varying cash sums and a plane ticket if they agree to be deported within 60 days. Those who have not agreed by April 1 will be imprisoned.

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