Palestinians: Number of West Bank settlers jumped nearly 4% in 2007
PA statistics bureau: 483,453 settlers in W. Bank, E. Jerusalem, says most growth near Green Line.
The number of settlers living in the West Bank increased by nearly 4 percent in 2007, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics said on Sunday.
According to the Palestinian report, settlers living on West Bank land and in enclaves in and around Arab East Jerusalem numbered some 483,453 at the end of last year. This is a 3.7 percent increase from the 466,005 counted last year.
The Palestinian Bureau of Statistics counted in its census 440 "occupation sites" in the West Bank, including settlements, outposts and military bases.
Some settlers live in outposts not recognized by Israeli law, but most are in more than 100 official settlements - some with tens of thousands of residents - under Israeli rule, including areas annexed to Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem District Planning and Construction Committee in July approved the construction of 1,800 new housing in Har Homa and Pisgat Ze'ev, two neighborhoods over the Green Line division.
The plan, which still requires approval from Jerusalem's local committee, includes the construction of 920 new housing units in Har Homa and 880 units in Pisgat Ze'ev.
Such expansion goes against the official stance of the U.S. government, which opposes construction in East Jerusalem.
Also in July, a key panel of lawmakers approved 20 new housing units at Maskiot in the West Bank, despite a 2007 pledge to the United States to halt construction at the site.
Recent weeks have seen an upturn in the number of reports of violent incidents against Palestinians by West Bank settlers.
This week, two Italian peace activists issued a complaint that they and a group of Palestinian children were attacked by settlers. The activists were reportedly escorting the children home from Summer camp outside Hebron, even though the children were supposed to have been escorted by IDF troops due to recent episodes of violence by settlers.
In July, a video was released of a settler kicking a Palestinian who was tied to a telephone pole at the time.
In June, a Palestinian shepherd issued a complaint that he was attacked outside Yitzhar by a group of settlers who hurled rocks at him and stabbed his donkey.
A few days before that incident, a video was released of three masked settlers from Susya with sticks and clubs attacking three members of the same family in the southern Hebron Hills on the evening of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot.