Killings spur on homes plan for West Bank

Israel has accelerated plans to build hundreds of new settler homes in response to the killing of a Jewish family in a West Bank settlement at the weekend.

The Cabinet move was aimed at appeasing furious Israeli settlers, but the plan and the deadly attack seem likely to push a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians even further from reach.

In a meeting called less than 24 hours after the murders, the Israeli Cabinet approved the construction of hundreds of new homes in West Bank settlement blocs, areas Israel intends to keep as part of an eventual peace deal. It is the first approval of new West Bank construction in months.

The deliberate, if hasty, move reflects the pressure faced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to respond robustly to the murders of five members of the same family, including a baby, amid an outpouring of grief and anger.

Members of the Fogel family were stabbed to death on Friday night in their West Bank home in Itamar, one of Israel's most radical settlements. According to the Israeli military, "Palestinian terrorists" broke through the outer security fence. The intruders set off an alarm, which was checked out but later dismissed.

The parents and three of their children – aged 11, four and three months – were stabbed to death, while two other sleeping children were left unharmed. The couple's 12-year-old daughter raised the alarm when she returned home around midnight.

The Al Aqsa martyrs brigade, the militant wing of the Fatah party that is dominant in the West Bank, claimed responsibility for the killings, calling them a response to the "fascist occupation against our people in the West Bank and Gaza". Israeli troops hunting for the killers, imposed a curfew for a second day in Awarta village, just west of Itamar.

Israeli newspapers splashed gruesome pictures of the bloodied victims across their front pages yesterday, and tens of thousands of mourners attended the funeral in Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Authority joined the international community in immediately condemning the murders, but reacted with anger to the decision to build more homes in the West Bank, territory which Palestinians want for their future state.

"The decision to build new settlements is a mistake and unacceptable," said Nabil Abu Rudeinah, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. "It will destroy everything and lead to big problems."

That view was echoed in Israel's liberal media. "Hundreds of settlements and outposts like Itamar remain on the ground, stuck down the Palestinians' throats," wrote Amir Oren in Haaretz newspaper. "The only way to attain peace and security is to remove all the settlements."

US-brokered peace negotiations floundered last September when Mr Netanyahu refused to extend a ban on the construction of new Jewish homes in the Palestinian territories, a decision which played well with right-wing voters but which is seen as contributing to Israel's isolation.

The chances of the two sides returning to the negotiating table seem remote in light of the latest attack. Israeli police are on the alert for reprisal attacks by settlers, potentially triggering wider violence.

Tensions between Palestinians and settlers were already high. Israelis from Itamar and neighbouring settlements have repeatedly attacked Palestinian property as part of a "price tag" policy, aimed at punishing the Palestinians every time the Israeli government is seen as acting against the settlers.

On the eve of revived peace talks last August, Palestinian militants shot dead four adult settlers in their car near Hebron, bringing an abrupt end to a period of relative calm.

At the funeral yesterday, the mood was defiant and there was little talk of peace. "There is not a Jewish heart that is not shedding a tear," Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger told mourners. "With whom do we have to sit and talk peace?"

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map