Middle East

Israeli defence minister calls for West Bank settlement expansion

Relatives and friends mourn during the funeral of Yotam Ovadia in Jerusalem cemetery, on July 27, 2018. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Family members and friends mourn Yotam Ovadia, who was killed in a knife attack

Israel's defence minister says the best way to stop more attacks on Israeli citizens in the occupied West Bank is to expand its settlements.

Avigdor Lieberman announced 400 new homes would be built in Adam, near Ramallah, where a Palestinian fatally stabbed an Israeli man on Thursday.

The teenaged attacker, who also wounded two other Israelis, was shot dead.

The West Bank settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

Palestinian militant group Hamas said the attack was an act of heroism and revenge for "crimes conducted by the Israeli occupation against our people".

The victim has been named as Yotam Ovadia, 31, while his attacker has been named as Mohammed Dar Youssef, 17, from nearby Kubar village, according to Palestinian media.

Israeli troops, who intend to demolish his family home, carried out a raid on his village on Friday morning, sparking clashes, the BBC's Middle East correspondent Tom Bateman reported.

The army said "rioters hurled large rocks and firebombs and rolled burning tyres at (Israeli) troops", who fired tear gas in return.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Palestinians clashed with the Israeli army on Friday

The Israeli army also said it is "reinforcing the defence" in the settlement of Adam, but Mr Lieberman suggested a longer-term strategy was needed.

"The best answer to terror is a settlement expansion in the West Bank," he tweeted [in Hebrew].

There has been a wave of stabbings, shootings and car-rammings of Israelis predominantly by Palestinians or Israeli Arabs since late 2015.

Dozens of Israelis have been killed in nearly three years of mainly lone-wolf attacks.

Some 300 Palestinians - most of them assailants, Israel says - have also been killed in that period, according to news agencies. Others have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops.

Israel says Palestinian incitement has fuelled the attacks. The Palestinian leadership has blamed frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation.

More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel's 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

There are also some 100 outposts - small settlements built without the government's authorisation.

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