IDF to Place Military Outpost at Shdema
The commander of the IDF's Etzion Brigade, Col. Eran Makov, announced over the weekend that the IDF intends to place a military outpost at Shdema, the site of a former IDF base between Jerusalem and Gush Etzion. The site at Shdema has been hotly contested for several years, with nationalist activists holding weekly events at the site in order to prevent it from falling into Arab hands.
Land of Israel loyalists want Israel to construct a Jewish city at the location. Arabs, meanwhile, have illegally built a hospital and a park for Arab area residents there.
On Friday, a convoy of dozens of vehicles, flying Israel flags, drove from Har Homa in Jerusalem to Shdema for a Tu B'Shvat ceremony under the slogan, “Connecting Jerusalem to Gush Etzion, Har Homa to Shdema.”
The head of Gush Etzion Regional Council, Shaul Goldstein, said at the ceremony that the brigade commander's statement was a welcome development. “Placing an outpost at Shdema is a sign that Shdema will, with G-d's help, become a thriving community – and this is happening thanks to the determined and unflagging activity of the Council for a Jewish Shdema.
"The Council for a Jewish Shdema has succeeded in its mission and it can now continue and become the 'Council for a Jewish Jenin' or 'for a Jewish Shechem [Nablus]',” he said half-jokingly.
The Council itself is more cautious in its pronouncements. It said that it would continue to hold activities at the Land of Israel Cultural Center at Shdema. “Two targets have been met thus far,” it stated. “Ensuring that the land is not transferred to Arabs and maintaining a Jewish presence there." The site was an IDF army camp until several years ago.