UK announces sanctions on four 'extremist settlers' in West Bank

Britain on Monday announced sanctions on four "extremist Israeli settlers" accused of committing human rights abuses against Palestinians in the West Bank, following a similar move by the United States earlier this month.

The curbs follow what the U.K. called "unprecedented levels of violence by extremist settlers in the West Bank" over the past year by some residents of illegal Israeli settlements and outposts there.

The sanctions represent a rare move by London and Washington against Israelis, as war rages with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The transatlantic allies' steadfast support for Israel's military action in the territory has drawn heavy criticism both internationally and among sections of their domestic populations.

Announcing the new curbs — which comprise U.K. asset freezes alongside travel and visa bans — British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said that "Israel must also take stronger action and put a stop to settler violence".

He added: "Too often, we see commitments made and undertakings given, but not followed through."

Cameron said "extremist Israeli settlers" are threatening Palestinians, often at gunpoint, and "forcing them off land that is rightfully theirs," branding the behaviour "illegal and unacceptable".

"Extremist settlers, by targeting and attacking Palestinian civilians, are undermining security and stability for both Israelis and Palestinians," he added.

Two of the individuals sanctioned — Moshe Sharvit and Yinon Levy — have in recent months used physical aggression, threatened families at gunpoint, and destroyed property, Cameron's foreign ministry said.

Their actions are "part of a targeted and calculated effort to displace Palestinian communities," it added.

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