Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, toured on Friday a number of settlements in the occupied West Bank, and reaffirmed the stance of his government regarding retaining West Bank settlements, especially the settlement blocs of Ariel, Gosh Etzion, and Maaleh Adumim.

Netanyahu said that the Ariel settlement bloc is the “capital of the Nablus area”, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank.

Israeli Yedioth Aharonoth reported on Friday evening that Netanyahu stated that Ariel “where our fathers and forefathers lived, will forever remain ours, and will remain an important part of the land of Israel”.

He vowed further developments and expansion in the illegal settlement bloc.
Netanyahu participated in planting some trees in the settlement.

The Israeli Prime Minister also visited Gush Etzion and Maaleh Adumim settlement blocs.

Netanyahu claimed that Israel wants peace with its neighbors, but added that constructions would resume.

Addressing a settler woman who lost two of her brothers in a Palestinian attack, Netanyahu said “you will be comfortable here, in Ariel, as here you will live, and so will your sons and grandsons”.

In related news, Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, participated on Friday in an activity held by the “National Jewish Fund”, one of the biggest funders of settlements, and also planted trees.

Barak did not mention the expansion of settlements but said that the United Nations and Judge Richard Goldstone, will find out the Israel did not violate the International Law during its war on Gaza.

He claimed that the Israeli army acted within the normal conducts of war and did not deliberately target UN facilities or civilian areas.

During the three-week war on Gaza last year, the Israeli army bombarded homes, medical facilities, civilian facilities, educational facilities, and seven UNRWA facilities.

1419 Palestinians were killed; most of them civilians including children and infants, and thousands were wounded.

The number of slain Palestinians reached nearly 1600 as dozens died of their wounds after the war ended.

Nine Israelis, including soldiers, were killed by Palestinian fire and shells during the war, and four soldiers were killed by friendly fire.

Approximately 366 patients died in the Gaza Strip due to the ongoing Israeli siege as they were not allowed out of the coastal region for medical treatment elsewhere.