The laws of occupation, which are based on the temporary nature of occupation, were designed to prevent the occupying power from making long term or irreversible changes to the occupied territory. For this reason (and others), international law prohibits the establishment of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. This applies to permanent settlements and outposts alike.
However, Israel is gradually absolving itself of its obligation to operate within international law in the West Bank. The strongest expression of this trend is the reinforcement of Israeli settlement in the West Bank, either by expanding existing settlements, which are considered legal under Israeli law, or retroactively approving unauthorized outposts, which are considered illegal under both Israeli and international law. In so doing, Israel is violating international law and its own commitments to the international community to halt construction in Israeli settlements in the OPT.
One of the goals pursued by the establishment of outposts, and the specific locations chosen for them, is creating contiguous Israeli settlement blocs by connecting isolated communities to larger, existing settlement blocs. The location of outposts is therefore not incidental. The settlements and outposts in Area C form geographically contiguous lines extending from the Green Line in the west to the Jordan Valley in the east. One of the most striking examples of the attempts made by Israeli authorities to create these contiguous settlement blocs is in the Shilo valley, situated between Ramallah and Nablus. This emerging bloc severs the West Bank, stretching between Ariel in the west and the Jordan Valley in the east.
The settlement of Shilo was established in 1979; since the 1990s, several unauthorized outposts have established in its vicinity. They are home to some of the most extreme Israeli settlers. Yesh Din has documented over 200 ideologically motivated crimes committed by Israeli citizens against Palestinians in this area, including the notorious murder of the Dawabshe family from the village of Duma, whose house was torched during the night in 2015.
Yesh Din has identified a connection between violence and other crimes committed by Israelis against Palestinian and the establishment of Israeli settlements and dispossession of Palestinians. Violence and vandalism usually occur on Palestinian farmland, or the outskirts of Palestinian villages. They are intended to intimidate Palestinians and produce a palpable threat that prevents them from accessing their land. These violent actions derive from a calculated strategy intended to restrict and dispossess Palestinians.
In 2014, Yesh Din petitioned the High Court of Justice to order the evacuation of the outpost of Adei Ad in the Shilo valley, both since it was partly built on privately owned Palestinian land and because it was a hotbed for violence and human rights violations against Palestinian residents of the area.
In its response to the petition, the State announced that although the outpost was built illegally, partly on private land and despite the fact that the area is a hotbed for violence against Palestinians, it was planning to attempt the retroactive authorization of the outpost, and several others nearby.
If the existing Israeli outposts in Ariel-Shilo bloc are retroactively authorized, a line of linked settlements will stretch from the Green line from Ariel to Shilo and eastward, severing the northern West Bank in two. This will result in the fragmentation of the West Bank. The consolidation of the bloc would preclude any possibility of the territorial contiguity necessary for a viable Palestinian state and severely infringe on Palestinians’ right to self-determination.