An outpost (Hebrew: מאחז‎, Ma'ahaz lit. "a handhold") refers to a community built within the West Bank (excluding Jerusalem) that was constructed between 1991 and 2004 without the authorization of the Israeli government. In comparison, Israeli settlements have been given legal status through the government. Officially, 105 outposts exist.[1]

Characteristics of an outpost

According to the 2005 Sasson Report, commissioned by then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, there are four principal characteristics of an outpost:[2]

    A. There was no government decision to establish it, and in any case no authorized political echelon approved its establishment.
    B. The outpost was established with no legal planning status. Meaning, with no valid detailed plan governing the area it was established upon, which can support a building permit.
    C. An unauthorized outpost is not attached to an existing settlement, but rather at least a few hundred meters distant from it as the crow flies.
    D. The outpost was established in the nineties, mostly from the mid nineties and on.

Types of outposts

For the Israeli government, there are two kinds of outposts: "unauthorized" and "illegal."

Unauthorized outposts

"Fledgling communities" constructed between 1991 and 2004 on the hilltops of the Judea and Samaria that have never been legalized by the government. They generally number between a dozen to 100 people and are composed of modular homes, such as caravans. However, they can also can be further developed, having more permanent housing as well as "paved roads, bus stops, synagogues and playgrounds."[3]

Illegal Outposts

In comparison, illegal outposts are "built partially or entirely" on what the Israeli government has determined is "privately owned Palestinian land."[3]


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