JERUSALEM – The Israeli government said Sunday that it had approved construction of hundreds of new homes in West Bank settlements after a couple and three of their children were stabbed to death in their home in a Jewish settlement Friday night.

The brutality of the attack at Itamar, a community of fervent religious nationalists near the Palestinian city of Nablus, shocked Israelis and triggered retaliation by militant settlers who stoned Palestinian cars and homes and torched vehicles in several locations across the West Bank.

In response to the slayings, the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a group of senior ministers had approved up to 500 housing units in several large Israeli settlements in the West Bank: Maa’leh Adumim, Ariel, the Etzion settlement bloc and Kiryat Sefer.

“They murder and we build, and we will build our country,” Netanyahu told relatives of the victims after a funeral that was broadcast live on national radio and television.

A self-imposed Israeli moratorium on new building in West Bank settlements expired in late September. Since then, there has been a spurt of settlement construction involving previously approved homes, but the decision announced Sunday was the first approval of new building plans.

Palestinian officials condemned the Israeli move. The Palestinians have refused to resume suspended negotiations with Israel as long as it continues expanding settlements, asserting that the construction is swallowing up land they seek for a future state.

Mark Regev, a spokesman for Netanyahu, said the decision to build had been taken with “full transparency with the Americans,” suggesting that Washington had been notified. Regev emphasized that the new construction would be in large settlements that he said were expected to remain part of Israel in any future peace accord and that the Israeli government saw “no contradiction” between the plan and an eventual agreement on a Palestinian state.

The U.S. State Department said it was “deeply concerned” by the continuing Israeli actions on West Bank settlements.