Occupied Jerusalem: The Israeli regime’s new hard-right defence minister on Sunday ordered officials to start planning a new Jewish colony in the heart of the West Bank city of Hebron.

The announcement came as the prospects of a third snap election since April loomed larger, with Defence Minister Naftali Bennett’s New Right party leaning heavily on colonists for support at the polls.

The Defence Ministry said Bennett had instructed ministry departments responsible for the Israeli occupied West Bank “to notify the Hebron municipality of planning a new Jewish neighbourhood in the wholesale market complex”.

The market area is on Hebron’s Shuhada Street, once a bustling thoroughfare leading to a holy site where the Prophet Abraham is believed to have been buried.

The street is now largely closed off to Palestinians who have repeatedly demanded that it be reopened to traffic.

The city is holy to both Muslims and Jews and is a flashpoint for clashes between the two sides.

On Saturday, Israeli occupation forces shot dead a Palestinian southwest of Hebron, with the regime saying that he was one of three men throwing petrol bombs at a military vehicle.

About 800 Israeli colonists live in the ancient city under heavy military protection amid around 200,000 Palestinians.

Sunday’s statement said the planned new building project would “double the number of Jewish residents in the city”.