Barkan settlement 311.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The Civil Administration is continuing to conduct reconnaissance flights over
Jewish settlements in the West Bank ahead of the possible implementation of a
new freeze on construction in the coming weeks, senior defense officials told
The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
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The flights over settlements were conducted
during the previous 10-month moratorium that went into effect last year and
expired in late September.
The administration has decided however to
continue the flights as part of an effort to map out ongoing construction in
settlements and possible violations.
Several months ago, towards the end
of the previous moratorium, the administration received Defense Ministry
approval as well as the necessary funds to recruit some 40 new inspectors
responsible for enforcing the freeze on construction.
were that following the expiration of the freeze, the new group of inspectors
would be disbanded. With the possibility of a new freeze on the horizon, The
ministry has decided to retain the new inspectors who will be needed, more than
before, in the event of a new moratorium.
“A new freeze will be much
harder to enforce,” one official said on Monday. “The settlers have learned how
we work and are threatening to be less compliant with a new government edict
that stops construction work.”
Earlier this month, Peace Now released a
claiming that settlers had built foundations for over 1,100 new homes in
the weeks since the moratorium ended.
No full calculation was ever
presented regarding the number of housing units on which work was suspended from
November 26, 2009, to September 26, 2010. Based on past figures from the Central
Bureau of Statistics, it was likely that work on anywhere from 1,000 to 1,600
housing units was affected.
According to defense officials, a new
moratorium, if imposed, could include all construction, even buildings which
foundations have already been laid for, unlike the last freeze when such sites
were permitted to continue working.
“A new freeze will be much more
complicated due to the magnitude of the construction that is going on in the
territories,” another official said.
Another concern is the type of
violence that could erupt in the West Bank following the implementation of a new
freeze. Fears in the IDF are that settlers will not respond quietly to a future
freeze like they did in the past and that there could be an escalation in Jewish
attacks against Palestinians.