The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has found that Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory are illegal under international law, the Israeli government announced on Monday.
In a ruling published on its website, the court also condemned the Israeli military for its use of excessive force in recent weeks against Palestinians, which has led to the deaths of at least 10 Palestinians and hundreds of injuries.
The ICJ’s findings, released on Friday, also came after a series of meetings between Israel and the court.
The government has said that settlements, built on land it seized from the Palestinians in the 1967 Six-Day War, are illegal, and that the settlement blocs in the West Bank are illegal as well.
Israel says the settlements, which it has built on privately owned Palestinian land, are a legal way to establish its security control over the area, but critics accuse it of imposing illegal restrictions on Palestinian rights and development.
“Israel’s settlement policies have created serious human rights concerns and have seriously undermined the rights of Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” the ICJ said in a statement.
The court said it is “deeply concerned” about the growing number of illegal Israeli settlements, adding that the number of Israeli settlers has reached “at least 1,600” and that some of them are built on Palestinian land.
Israel occupied the West Wall and other parts of the Temple Mount in 1967 and later annexed the area to its state.
Since then, the Palestinians have sought to establish statehood and have called for the return of the wall and other structures.
The Israeli government has maintained that it is the only democratic and sovereign country in the Middle East.