Shdema: IDF Blocks Off Jews

Following two weeks of Arab vandalism at Shdema, the Jewish pioneers decided to step up their presence – and the army blocked them.

Hillel Fendel,

Soldiers preventing entry to Shdema
Soldiers preventing entry to Shdema
(Israel News Photo: Women in Green)

Following two weeks of Arab vandalism targeting the on-and-off Jewish presence at Shdema, the Jewish pioneers decided to step up their presence – and the army blocked them. MK Aryeh Eldad reacted sharply (see below).

The activists fear that though they have apparently succeeded in keeping at least part of Shdemah Jewish and under IDF control, the Arabs will be permitted to continue building – with American and European help – in vast areas around the hill.


"While the Arabs build massively down below, we’re still forced to bicker with the army about whether we can go up, and for how long, and if we can do a little refurbishing…”
Shdema is a former IDF base, in area that is under full Israeli control, in and around which Arabs from PA-controlled Beit Sahour have begun massive, illegal construction. Jews from nearby Gush Etzion and Jerusalem began a campaign 16 months ago to “keep Shdema Jewish,” including weekly classes and other activities, as well as lobbying politicians and recruiting public figures and Knesset Members to the cause.

The result, so far, has been that the Civil Administration has prevented the Arabs from building atop the Shdema hill – where the Jewish activity is centered – but is allowing Arab construction in the adjoining area. This, despite court orders rendering the construction illegal.

Shdema activists – led by the Committee for a Jewish Shdema and Women in Green – wrote a letter this week to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, asking him to stop the loss of yet another piece of the Land of Israel to Arab hands.

Response to Vandalism
Meanwhile, over the past two weeks, Arab vandals have damaged Jewish property, including burning a Holy Ark, at Shdema. The activists decided to fight back by upgrading their presence at the site, arriving daily instead of weekly, for a couple of hours each day.

“The army’s ‘punishment’ of our efforts was not long in coming,” the Shdema people announced, “and today, Friday, the 8th of Elul, the IDF did not allow us to ascend to the hilltop. Large police and army forces, as well as concrete barriers at the foot of the hill, blocked our way. However, we established a tent at the foot of the hill, where we hung our signs and flags and held our lecture-class as scheduled.”

Struggle for the Rest of the Hill
“Now that we have learned that the hilltop will remain in IDF hands," the activists stated, "we have begun the struggle for the rest of the hill. We will continue to arrive next week every day – by foot, if necessary.”

Yehudit Katzover of Kiryat Arba, who heads the Committee to Keep Shdema Jewish, told Israel National News afterwards, "The situation is that in the north-northeast area of the hill, the Arabs have already built, with American and European aid, an amazing complex, with buildings, a park, a playground, and more. The IDF has done nothing to stop them, even though there are stop-work orders and the like. Meanwhile, while they build massively down below, we’re still forced to bicker with the army about whether we can go up, and for how long, and if we can do a little refurbishing…”
MK Eldad: "Peace Now has enough supporters among the Arabs and Jew-haters abroad; there is no need for their political supporters to be active in the IDF as well.”

“It’s a hard trek,” Katzover said, “but at least we see that the army is now present at the site more massively than it’s ever been before.  It’s a familiar story from elsewhere in Yesha; we keep on coming and showing our presence, and finally, the army takes over, and then, hopefully, it will become a Jewish town.”

Arabs Wish to Build Hospital
“Now that the army has agreed to retain the top of the hill for its own purposes," Katzover said, "we said OK, let’s try to make sure that we can retain the area, or some of it, that is around the hill. As [Gush Etzion Regional Council chief] Shaul Goldstein wrote to [Defense Minister] Ehud Barak, it is clear that if they are allowed to build a hospital, as they wish, that will be a major enterprise, and they will want to expand, etc. - and even the army’s hilltop will be in danger.” No response has been received yet from Barak’s office.

After the class on Friday, a group of activists attempted to ascend the hilltop, while the soldiers tried to block them. Some of the former made it up, while others lost the soldiers in the hills, and others were briefly detained. Afterwards, Mrs. Katzover said, “three leftist/anarchists went through and were not stopped, so we turned around and tried to stop them, explaining to the army that these people are enemies of all of us, and how they incite against us on their website, etc. The soldiers told us that they would not let them  - , but we were unable to see if that’s what actually occurred in the end…”

MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) said, “The ban on Jews in Shdema by Central Commander Gen. Gadi Shamni, at the same time that he ignores Arab and anarchist vandalism in the abandoned army base, is simply a leftist political move, and has nothing to do with security."

Eldad continued: "Shamni, who served as Olmert’s and Sharon’s military secretary, is the proof that a general who was in politics may not be allowed to return to active military service. Peace Now has enough supporters among the Arabs and Jew-haters abroad; there is no need for their political supporters to be active in the IDF as well.”




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