France imposed sanctions on dozens of Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, accusing them of committing acts of violence against Palestinians. It was one of the largest rounds of penalties levied against Israelis in the West Bank to date and follows Britain and U.S. restrictions imposed on four settlers this month.
France’s foreign ministry said it had banned 28 settlers from entering France or any of its territories, calling on Israel’s government to pursue legal action against them.
The French government said that the West Bank settlements were illegal under international law and incompatible with the creation of a Palestinian state, a position held by many nations but that Israel disputes. Israel’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to the French government’s statement, which did not name the individuals being placed under sanctions.
Since Oct. 7, when Hamas-led attacks on Israel ignited the war in Gaza, Jewish settlers have raised the tempo of unauthorized moves to expand their footprint on the West Bank, according to a report last month by Peace Now, an Israeli advocacy group.
Settlers have been fencing off open areas in the part of the West Bank that is under complete Israeli control in order to impede Palestinian herders, the report said, adding that several of the settlers outposts and roads are on privately owned Palestinian land in violation of Israeli law.
The settlers’ encroachments have heightened tensions in the West Bank, where violence and Israeli military raids were on the rise even before the war broke out. Palestinian militias have carried out shooting attacks against Israelis. Extremist Israeli settlers have rampaged through Palestinian villages, setting fire to property. The Israeli military has mounted frequent raids that have often turned deadly, arresting thousands.
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