Today, Peace Now's Settlement Watch issued the following update regarding new settlement-related developments in Hebron:
While the settlers are waiting for approvals of other settlement expansions in Hebron, namely the "House of Contention" and "Beit HaMachpela" they have initiated another strategy for settlement expansion, archaeological digging.
A state sponsored and approved dig began earlier this week in the contentious area of Tel Rumeida, Hebron. Tel Rumeida is one of the five settlements in Hebron and is a particularly volatile location.
Peace Now has alerted the public and decision-makers to the devastating impact that continued settlement expansions in Hebron could have on the current peace process. (See the "House of Contention"). Adding new settlement expansions, adds more pressure to the area which could easily explode into a more violent conflict.
When speaking to the Israeli press, Director-General of Peace Now, Yariv Oppenheimer explained that the current move is, "...expanding the settlement under the guise of archaeological digs. Under Kerry's nose the defense minister is allowing the settlers to expand and change the status quo in the most explosive spot in the West Bank."
Peace Now is closely monitoring the situation and will continue to provide regular updates on this matter.
Footage from the beginning of the dig can be viewed here (Videos copyrighted by Nehemiah Stark- Volunteer for Peace Now).