The US State Department has taken a rare punitive decision against Israel, saying on Tuesday it will bar entry to America to Jewish extremists who have been involved in frequent attacks against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the decision after warning Israel last week that President Joe Biden's administration would take action against the attacks.
This decision was taken at a sensitive time in the relationship between the US and Israel. The Biden administration has strongly supported Israel since it was attacked on October 7 by Hamas - the radical Palestinian group designated a terrorist organization by the US and the EU.
US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said dozens of new arrivals and their families would be barred from entering the US starting Tuesday and that if the violence continues, then other new arrivals will face the same bans.
In recent weeks, the Biden administration has repeatedly called on Israel to do more to limit civilian casualties in its already-chosen offensive in the southern Gaza Strip.
While not directly criticizing the offensive, the US has been vocal against the violence of Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Israel's failure to respond to US demands to stop it.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on Monday that at least eight Palestinians had been killed in the West Bank by arrivals since October 7 alone.
The UN agency has registered 314 attacks by newcomers which have resulted in death among Palestinians and damage to Palestinian property./REL