ISRAEL plans to build thousands of new homes in settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank in response to a fatal Palestinian shooting attack, a senior cabinet minister has said.

Israel’s finance minister, far-right firebrand Bezalel Smotrich, announced plans to build more than 3300 new homes in settlements late on Thursday, after three Palestinian gunmen opened fire on cars near the Maale Adumim settlement, killing one Israeli and wounding five.

“The serious attack on Maale Adumim must have a determined security response but also a settlement response,” Smotrich wrote on Twitter/X.

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“Our enemies know that any harm to us will lead to more construction and more development and more of our hold all over the country.”

He said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (below) and defence minister Yoav Gallant participated in the discussion.

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The decision will put in motion approval processes for 300 new homes in the Kedar settlement and 2350 in Maale Adumim.

It will also advance previously approved construction of nearly 700 homes in Efrat.

Consecutive Israeli governments have expanded settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, war-won territories the Palestinians seek for a future state, along with Gaza. Construction has accelerated under Netanyahu’s current right-wing government, which includes settlers, including Smotrich, in key positions.

“Instead of acting in order to prevent future horrible attacks such as of yesterday, the government of Israel is acting to deepen the conflict and the tensions,” said Hagit Ofran, from Israeli settlement watchdog group Peace Now.

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“The construction in settlements is bad for Israel, distancing us from peace and security,” he said.

Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East war.

Violence has escalated in the West Bank since the deadly October 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel, which triggered Israel’s war on the militant group.

Since October 7, Palestinian gunmen have carried out several deadly attacks on Israelis.

Israel has held the West Bank under a tight grip – limiting movement and conducting frequent raids against what it says are militant targets.

Palestinian health officials say 401 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank during that period.