Last January 30, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz disclosed a secret Israeli government database on settlements in the occupied West Bank, and posted the Hebrew text (pdf) of the database on their website. Last month, the ODNI Open Source Center completed an English translation of the 200-page document. Secrecy News obtained a copy of the translation (pdf) which we are publishing today.
The database provides a concise description of each of the dozens of settlements, including their location, legal status, population, and even the origins of their names, which are often Biblically-inspired. Crucially, the database makes clear that unauthorized and illegal construction activity has taken place in most of the settlements.
“An analysis of the data reveals that, in the vast majority of the settlements – about 75 percent – construction, sometimes on a large scale, has been carried out without the appropriate permits or contrary to the permits that were issued,” according to the Haaretz account. “The database also shows that, in more than 30 settlements, extensive construction of buildings and infrastructure (roads, schools, synagogues, yeshivas and even police stations) has been carried out on private lands belonging to Palestinian West Bank residents.”
A copy of the database had been requested by Israeli citizens groups under that country’s freedom of information law, but release was denied by the Defense Ministry. Haaretz obtained a copy independently and, notwithstanding Israel’s military censorship apparatus, proceeded to publish it. See “Secret Israeli Database Reveals Full Extent of Illegal Settlement” by Uri Blau, Haaretz, February 1, 2009.