Forty Years in Review: Jewish Growth in the Liberated Lands
The miraculous Six Day War of 1967 led to a no-less miraculous period of return to and rebuilding of the lands for which the Jews had pined since the Exile began. The following is a timeline of milestone events during these historic decades of the liberated lands - Old Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, Sinai, Gaza and the Golan Heights.
Blue - Northern Shomron
Green - Hevron and Gush Etzion
Purple - Golan
Red - Withdrawals
May 15, 1967, three weeks before the Six Day War - "Where is our Hevron? Where is our Shechem? Where is our Jericho?" - Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, bemoaning the lack of Jewish sovereignty over Biblical Israel, in an Independence Day speech to his students in Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav Kook
May 1967 - Despite the 19-year-old ceasefire ending the War of Independence, Egypt's President Nasser amasses troops and aircraft in the Sinai, closes Tiran Straits to Israeli shipping, expels UN peacekeepers, and declares, "Our basic goal is the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight..." Syria, which had shelled and destroyed Jewish homes from the Golan over the years, as well as Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, move their troops to Israel's borders.
June 6-11, 1967 - Israel preempts the expected Arab attack by destroying the Egyptian Air Force on the ground and capturing the Sinai and Gaza; attacking Syria and liberating the Golan Heights; and after appealing unsuccessfully to Jordan to stay out of the war, capturing the Old City of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
July 1967 - The first group of Galilee farmers - no more subject to having their every move observed from the Syrian outposts on the Golan Heights overlooking them, and determined that this situation would not repeat itself - ascended to settle in the Golan. The next month, the government approved their new town, relocated it slightly to the south, and named it Merom Golan.
July 17, 1967 - Eight Jewish couples - the grooms were IDF soldiers who had fought in the war - were married at the Machpelah Cave, in the presence of IDF Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren and Hebron Mayor Muhammed Ali Jaabar.
Summer 1967 - The first act towards Jewish settlement in liberated areas outside Jerusalem: The children who had been evacuated from Gush Etzion in 1948, now grown and led by Chanan Porat, petitioned Prime Minister Levi Eshkol to allow the re-establishment of Kfar Etzion. Shortly before Rosh HaShanah, in September 1967, they rebuilt Kibbutz Kfar Etzion.
Nov. 1967 - Government plans were made for 10 farming communities in the Golan, with a maximum population of 7,000. This number was ultimately surpassed by far, and today the population stands at 20,000, in 33 communities.
1967-1976 - 53 new communities were established in the newly liberated areas (compared to 34 in the rest of Israel during this period). 20 were built in the Golan, 11 in the Jordan Valley, and 14 in Sinai and Gaza. No new communities were officially established in the Shomron or Binyamin mountains, or in southern Judea.
Passover 1968 - 88 people spent the Seder night Park Hotel in Hevron. Several weeks later, some 50 of them relocated to the military compound overlooking the city.
1968 - The government established the farming community of Mecholah in the Jordan Valley, connecting the area with Beit She'an to the north.
Summer 1969 - The second Gush Etzion community was built: Kibbutz Rosh Tzurim. Soon afterwards, the foundations were laid for nearby Alon Shvut.
March 1970 - The Golda Meir government, prodded on by Minister Yigal Alon, approves the establishment of Kiryat Arba, just to the east of Hevron. In September 1972, the first 50 Jewish families move from the Hevron Military Compound into the new city.
1971 - The first move to settle Gaza is made at Kfar Darom with the establishment of an IDF Nachal outpost. Kfar Darom was the site of Jewish community that fell after the Arab massacres of the 1930s and was rebuilt briefly from 1946 until 1948. The Nachal outpost later became a civilian jump-off spot for new towns in the region, and in 1989, it became a full-fledged community of its own.
1972 - Netzarim is established as a non-religious Nachal outpost, becoming a religious kibbutz in 1984. Netzarim was originally designed to be the center of a Jewish area in central Gaza, but with the withdrawal from most of Gaza in 1994, it became a Jewish enclave, accessible only by convoy.
1973 - The city of Yamit was established south of Gaza, in the northwestern corner of Sinai. It was planned to be a large port city.
1973 - Netzer Hazani became Gaza's first Jewish civilian town.
1973 - Initial efforts begin to settle the Shomron. The "Elon Moreh" settlement nucleus group is formed.
Late 1973, following the Yom Kippur War - The first request to settle outside Shechem (Nablus), by women whose husbands were still drafted for the war, was turned down by Golda Meir.
Tu B'Shvat (February 7) 1974 - The "Gush Emunim" ideological group is founded, originally as a group within the National Religious Party, later as an independent organization. Its first meeting is held in the home of Rabbi Chaim Druckman. Only later did it begin to concentrate on settling Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
June 5, 1974 - After an unsuccessful meeting between Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook and newly-appointed Defense Minister Shimon Peres, the 20-family Elon Moreh settlement nucleus group begins "unauthorized" settlement efforts, just outside an army base south of Shechem (not far from present-day Itamar). Present were Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda, Likud MKs Ariel Sharon and Geulah Cohen, and NRP MKs Zevulun Hammer and Yehuda Ben-Meir. They were forcibly evacuated two nights later.
July 25, 1974 - The famous Sebastia train station settlement attempt (10 kilometers northwest of Shechem). Thousands of people took part in the five-day-long effort until they were removed.
Oct. 1974 - The third attempt: Operation Hakafot. Three separate core groups set out in the middle of the night for three areas: Jericho, Shilo, and Nebi Tzalah (today N'vei Tzuf, west of Ramallah). Thousands of people took part; strong army opposition caused them to break up into 16 different groups. The spokesman for Gush Emunim announced the next day: "We have formed 16 new communities." After a week of forcible evacuations from various locations, the operation ended.
Pesach 1975 - After 2-3 more failed attempts, the first of several semi-annual "Shomron Marches" was held - 20,000 people marched for two days from Shaar Efraim (along the Green Line east of Netanya) to Sebastia.
1975 - The Rabin government finally allows the establishment of temporary camps in Ofra and Maaleh Adumim, which very soon became full-fledged towns.
1975 - The Rabin government establishes military outposts in Tekoa (near the Herodion) and Kokhav HaShachar (between Shilo and Jericho), which became communities in 1977 and 1979, respectively.
1975 - Government-initiated settlement in the Jordan Valley: Moshav Mechorah, Patzael and Yeitav. Today, the Jordan Valley Regional Council numbers over 20 communities.
Chanukah (Devember) 1975 - The 8th and final ascent - a week-long camp-out in Sebastia - ended in victory: The Rabin-led government, represented by Shimon Peres, agreed to a compromise in which the 30 families of the Elon Moreh core group were allowed to relocate to the Kadum army camp - 7 kilometers west of Shechem. Four months later, they moved up the hill to the site they ultimately turned into one of Yesha's largest Jewish towns, Kedumim.
Rabin later explained that the "Zionism is Racism" resolution, passed in the UN just a month earlier, as well as the evident lack of desire on the part of the IDF leaders to take part in a forceful and violent evacuation of Jews, contributed to his desire to find a compromise with the pioneers.
1977-1985 - 89 new communities were established in the Six Day War-liberated areas (125 elsewhere in Israel).
1977 - Katzrin, the first Jewish city in the Golan Heights since the fall of Gamla 1,900 years earlier, is built.
1977 - The town of Elkanah was founded in the Shomron, becoming a Local Town Council in 1981.
May 1977 - Menachem Begin was elected Prime Minister, signaling a major change in settlement policy - though not as major as settlement leaders and pioneers had hoped for. Most communities still had to begin "on the sly," generally as part of a military base.
Autumn 1977 - Beit El was established, west of Ofrah and just north of Ramallah. Its two separate communities became the Beit El Local Council in 1997, populated today by over 5,000 people.
1978 - The Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty was signed at Camp David. It calls for total withdrawal from Sinai, and Arab autonomy in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The Movement to Stop the Withdrawal in Sinai is formed.
August 1978 - What is today the city of Ariel (population 17,000 and home to the College of Judea and Samaria) began with 40 families from the not-religious "Tel Aviv" settlement group. The idea of a city in the Shomron had originally been approved by the government in 1973.
May 1979 - Jews return to Hevron: 10 women and 40 children from Kiryat Arba move into the building known as Beit Hadassah. For two months afterwards, anyone who left was not permitted back. For ten months after that, they were allowed to leave, but no one else was permitted to join.
January 1980 - Permanent site of Elon Moreh established east of Shechem, on the southern side of Mt. Kabir in the Shomron, overlooking Biblical Shechem that is known today as Tel Balata. Elon Moreh was established in that location after another site - to which the Elon Moreh group had already moved - was rejected when Arabs claimed that some of it was their private land; the Supreme Court heard conflicting testimony as to whether the area was necessary for security purposes, and finally ruled that the area was not necessary.
May 1980 - Terrorists murder six men outside Beit Hadassah in Hevron - and the next week, the government issues official authorization for the renewal of a Jewish community in Hevron.
July 1980 - The Knesset approved the Jerusalem Law, determining that "complete and united Jerusalem is Israel's capital." The U.S. abstained in a UN vote against the law.
Dec. 1981 - The Knesset approved the Golan Law, annexing the Golan Heights to Israel. The U.S. responded by canceling a memorandum of understanding with Israel, infuriating Prime Minster Begin, who said, "What are we, your vassal state? Are we a banana republic?"
April 1982 - Sinai: The nine-year-old city of Yamit and 14 nearby farming villages such as Atzmona, Talmei Yosef and Priel are destroyed as Israel completes withdrawal from the Sinai.
1982 - Only seven new communities established in Yesha this year: N'vei Daniel and Nokdim in Gush Etzion; Shani-Livnah and Telem in the Southern Hevron Hills; Naamah, north of Jericho; Anatot in eastern Binyamin; and Alfei Menashe in western Shomron. In the following two years, 30 new towns were built.
1983 - The Efrat Local Council is founded in Gush Etzion, by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin and Moshe (Moshko) Moshkowitz, a resident of pre-War of Independence Gush Etzion. Known as the "city of eight hilltops," it currently boasts some 8,500 residents.
1983 - The Ne'eman Commission on Settlement Affairs decided for the first time in the history of the State to establish private-initiative communities on privately-owned land. Such towns include Efrat, Emanuel, Beitar, Shaarei Tikvah, and others.
1983 - N'vei Dekalim was built, becoming the "capital" of Gush Katif (Jewish Gaza).
1984 - The establishment of the Likud-Labor unity government put the brakes on new communities, but the existing ones grew significantly during the coming five years.
1986-1992 - Only 15 new communities established in liberated areas during this period (16 elsewhere in Israel).
1992 - Yitzchak Rabin elected Prime Minister again, imposes near-total freeze on construction in Yesha. Yesha loses its status as a high-priority development area, and tax benefits are reduced or cut totally. Bemoaning his electoral defeat, outgoing Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir said, "I would have carried out autonomy talks for ten years, and meanwhile we would have reached half a million people in Judea and Samaria."
Sept. 1993 - Oslo Accords signed, establishing the Palestinian Authority.
Feb. 1994 - Massacre in Machpelah Cave. On the backdrop of a major Palestinian terror attack in the offing, Dr. Baruch Goldstein of Hevron shot and killed 29 Arab worshipers. The Machpelah Cave was then divided, with Arabs receiving near-total control of the Yitzchak hall, and the Jews receiving near-total control over the smaller Avraham and Yaakov halls.
May 1994 - "Gaza and Jericho First" agreement signed, giving the PA control over these areas (except for the Jewish towns there). It was generally agreed that the determination of which territory was given over to PA control was set based on the map drawn by Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria.
Sept 1995 - Oslo II (Taba) agreement signed, calling for Israel's withdrawal from seven Arab cities in Yesha, as well as three more withdrawals before the onset of final talks.
Nov.-Dec. 1995 - The IDF withdraws from Bethlehem, Ramallah, Shechem (except for Joseph's Tomb, which it abandoned at the beginning of the Oslo War, five years later), Jenin, Tul Karem, and Kalkilye.
1996 - "HaAm Im HaGolan" (The People are With the Golan) banners and stickers grace porches, billboards and cars throughout the country, in the face of possible intentions by Prime Minister Shimon Peres to negotiate giving the Golan to Syria. The Golan is saved.
May 1996 - Binyamin Netanyahu elected Prime Minister; the new government removes only some of the Yesha construction restrictions of the previous government.
Jan. 1997 - IDF withdraws from most of Hevron.
October 1998 - Under heavy American (Clinton) pressure, Binyamin Netanyahu signs the Wye River Memorandum outlining Israeli withdrawals totaling 13% of Judea and Samaria in stages.
Nov. 1998 - The first of three scheduled interim-stage withdrawals is executed around Jenin, Shechem and Tul Karem, giving over 9% of Judea and Samaria to PA control. The PA now has total control of 10% of Judea and Samaria, and civilian control of another 19%. The community of Har Brachah, immediately south of Shechem, is left surrounded on three sides by PA-controlled area.
Sept. 1999 - The other two stages [see Nov. 1998] were never executed. Ehud Barak was elected Prime Minister in the meanwhile, and came to a new agreement - called the Sharm a-Sheikh Agreement - which renegotiated the next withdrawals. 7% of Yesha was immediately given over from PA civil control to PA military control.
January 2000 - Some 300,000 people took part in one of the largest demonstrations in Israeli history, calling on Prime Minister Barak not to agree to an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights. It put an end to talk of such a withdrawal for several years.
Jan - March 2000 - two more relatively minor withdrawals, fulfilling the Wye and Sharm commitments and giving the PA full or partial control of 39.8% of Yesha.
Sep. 30, 2000 - Palestinian Authority initiates the Oslo War.
April 2002 - Operation Defensive Shield in Shechem and Jenin, after terrorists murder some 430 Israelis in the past year and a half of warfare.
October 2002 - The Gilad Farm outpost in the Shomron was forcibly dismantled, by order of the Sharon unity government's Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer. It was later rebuilt in a different location.
Dec. 2003 - Prime Minister Ariel Sharon first announces his Disengagement plan to unilaterally quit Gaza and northern Shomron, at the expense of the nearly 9,000 Jews living there.
May 2004 - A referendum of Likud voters throughout the country rejects the Disengagement plan by a 60-40 margin. Contrary to earlier promises, Sharon ignores the results by making only cosmetic changes.
June 2004 - Sharon fires two Cabinet ministers in order to enable a Cabinet vote approving the Disengagement.
Feb 2005 - Knesset passes the main Disengagement bill, known as Evacuation/Compensation.
August 2005 - Sharon government destroys 25 Jewish towns in Gush Katif and northern Shomron, and expels residents to hotels and other temporary dwellings. IDF forces are withdrawn from Gaza shortly thereafter, though not from the northern Shomron.
February 2006 - Police battled with thousands of protestors and injured hundreds in the course of destroying nine homes in Amona, a hilltop community/outpost overlooking Ofrah in Binyamin. The homes were deemed illegal in the wake of a Peace Now suit claiming that they were built on Arab-owned land.
June 2006 - The total population in Judea and Samaria grew by some 3% in the first half of 2006 - nearly three times higher than that of the rest of the country - to a total of 260,932 people.
January 2007 - Interior Ministry figures show nearly 270,000 Israelis in the 126 Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria - a 5.8 percent increase over the year before. The population in Yesha grew by 107% since 1995, compared to a 29% growth for all of Israel during this period.
May 2007 - In response to a lawsuit filed by Peace Now - the ultra-left organization that has made it its goal to wipe out Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he had asked Defense Minister Amir Peretz to prepare a plan to destroy small Jewish communities - known as "unauthorized outposts" - in Judea and Samaria. Peace Now has targeted, among others, Migron - a 43-family outpost/community on a hilltop between Psagot and Michmash on the Jerusalem-Beit El highway.
Sept. 2007 - "Land of Israel Faithful" youths ascend to five new settlement points throughout Yesha: Maalot Halhoul near Kiryat Arba, Eitam Hill in northern Efrat, Nofei Hashmonaim in western Binyamin, Shvut Ami near Kedumim, and Harhivi (meaning "Expand," based on Isaiah 54: "Expand the place of thy tent... for thou shalt break forth both right and left"), near Elon Moreh. Army forces took the sites down within a week, but several of them were repeatedly rebuilt for months afterwards. As of May 2009, Eitam has permits for construction, Shvut Ami has a permanent presence, Harhivi has frequent activities, and three other sites - Meoz Esther near Kokhav HaShachar, Ramat Migron outside Psagot, and Mitzpeh Avichai near Kiryat Arba - are also "outpost" neighborhoods in every sense.
January 2008 - The population of Yesha grew 5.2% in the past year, and now stands at 282,000.
May 2008 - Activists begin efforts to establish a Jewish presence at Shdema, a former IDF base between Jerusalem and Gush Etzion that the government had shown signs of turning into an Arab village. Efforts pay off in the beginning of 2010 when the army announces it will maintain a permanent presence on the hilltop, though not in the area below, where Arabs have already begun building.
Nov. 2009 - The Netanyahu government, under intense pressure from the Obama Administration, announces a 10-month freeze on all Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria. In Jerusalem, too, a de-facto construction freeze is essentially in effect.
Sep. 2009 - The Central Bureau of Statistics estimates that 301,000 Israelis live in Judea and Samaria.