JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel's interior minister Eli Yishai has given final approval for the construction of 1,600 new settler homes in east Jerusalem, his spokesman told AFP on Thursday.
The move is likely to anger both the Palestinians and the international community, as it struggles to find a way to relaunch peace talks in a bid to head off a Palestinian plan to seek United Nations membership.
Roei Lachmanovich also said the interior minister was set to give final approval for another 2,700 settler homes in east Jerusalem neighborhoods in "a couple of days."
"He has approved 1,600 homes in Ramat Shlomo and will approve 2,000 more in Givat Hamatos and 700 in Pisgat Zeev," Lachmanovich said.
The 1,600-house construction in Ramat Shlomo has already caused a diplomatic rift between Israel and Washington. more
GAZA CITY: A member of Hamas' armed wing was killed Thursday in a "mysterious explosion" in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, the group and Palestinian medical sources said.
The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades announced the death in a statement, naming the militant as 20-year-old Ali Nayef al-Haj.
"Ali Nayef al-Haj of Yebna refugee camp was martyred on Thursday in an accidental internal explosion," the group said.
The group gave no additional details, but it also made no accusations that Israel was involved in the death.
Adham Abu Selmiya, a spokesman for the Hamas-run medical services in the Gaza Strip, said only that "a citizen was killed in a mysterious explosion," adding that the man's body arrived at the Abu Yusef al-Najjar hospital "in tatters."