WASHINGTON — The U.S. government on Thursday announced sanctions against two Israeli outposts in the West Bank, an escalation from the Biden administration’s previous targeting of individual settlers.

The sanctions focus on Zvis Farm and Moshes Farm, which the State Department said are used as bases to perpetuate “violence against Palestinians.” Three Israeli settlers — Zvi Bar Yosef, Moshe Sharvit and Neriya Ben Pazi — were also sanctioned.

“There is no justification for extremist violence against civilians or forcing families from their homes, whatever their national origin, ethnicity, race, or religion,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.

Axios first reported the sanctions.

The announcement signals an escalation in the administration’s response to settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, because sanctions against outposts have impacts on wider groups than those against individuals.

“These West Bank outposts are owned or controlled by designated individuals, have acted as a base from which to launch violent acts and are illegal even under Israeli law,” Miller said at a briefing Thursday. “It is critical that Israel take additional action to stop settler violence and hold accountable those responsible for it.”

The White House has increasingly called for Israel to “hold extremist settlers accountable for violent acts” against Palestinians. Israel’s conservative-led government, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has made expanding West Bank settlements a top priority, even though critics point out that they significantly complicate the prospects for any two-state solution.

“Today’s action further underscores our commitment to promoting peace, security, and stability for civilians in the West Bank and accountability for the individuals and entities involved in these actions,” the State Department said Thursday.

President Joe Biden has come under scrutiny from his own Democratic Party, particularly progressives, for what he calls his “ironclad” support of Israel amid the growing Palestinian death toll in Gaza.

More than 1,200 people died in Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7, and an estimated 30,000 people in Gaza have died, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

A campaign urging U.S. voters to abandon Biden has gained traction among progressives, which led more than 100,000 voters in Michigan to cast protest votes for “uncommitted” in the state’s Democratic presidential primary. Biden and his allies have also faced pro-Palestinian cease-fire protests at official White House and campaign events, increasing concerns among some donors about what the “uncommitted” vote could mean for his chances in November.

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