Daily Israel Report

Gush Etzion Foresees 50 Percent Growth Rate

The Etzion bloc of communities - population 60,000, predicted to grow to 90,000 by 2020 - has been making news.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 7/21/2010, 11:13 AM / Last Update: 7/21/2010, 11:30 AM

Gush Etzion Regional Council

Gush Etzion, the bloc of communities in northern Judea just south of Jerusalem, is "in the national consensus"' - meaning it is not expected to be included in any negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and will remain under Israeli sovereignty no matter what agreement is signed. Currently boasting a population of some 60,000, its two largest towns are Beitar Illit, with 36,500 people, and Efrat, with 8,500. The Gush Etzion Regional Council foresees a population of 90,000 by the year 2020.

Among Gush Etzion newsmakers are the following:
  • At the ancient Bi’ar water site, near Efrat and Elazar, two days of summer fun, including water games, science and arts-and-crafts workshops, sports, animals, inflatable castles and slides, and more. A musical Kabbalat Shabbat (Sabbath welcoming) ceremony will be held at Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. 

  • The Gush Etzion Regional Council’s Engineering and Infrastructure Department is in the midst of implementing an overall plan for regional expansion, a project calling for a 125-acre industrial park, two of whose buildings are already complete and in use; a 30-acre business, commercial and tourism center at the Gush Etzion junction; renovation and preservation of the original Kibbutz Massuot Yitzchak, with the addition of educational and recreational facilities; three new sewage recycling and purification plants; two new schools; and more.

  • The Kfar Etzion Field School is sponsoring a nighttime bicycle trip from Gush Etzion eastward to the Dead Sea, beginning Thursday at 7 PM. The route winds from Maaleh Amos to Nachal Arugot to Mitzpeh Michvar – an observation point 620 meters above the Dead Sea, 12 kilometers north of Ein Gedi, from where can be seen the Mountains of Moav in Jordan, half the Jordan Valley, the entire Judea Desert, and even the southern Shomron (Samaria).

  • An ongoing, three-way project in Gush Etzion is called Etzionegev – a series of meetings between residents of Gush Etzion and Shaar HaNegev to the west. Initiated by UJC Metrowest, which is partnered with both regions, Etzionegev promote encounters, dialogue and understanding between different, and sometimes opposing, sectors of Israeli society.

  • On Thursday evening, at the Yellow Hill Plaza in Gush Etzion, popular singers Yonatan Raz’el and Arkady Duchin, and other musicians, will appear in concert.

  • A new brand of made-in-Israel kosher beer is being produced in a Gush Etzion trailer. More than 250 bottles a week of several varieties of Lone Tree Beers are brewed and sold by Gush Etzion residents Glasgow-born David Shire and his business partner Susan Levin, originally from Maryland. This, in addition to the six-year-old Gush Etzion Wineries, at the Gush Etzion Junction, which is famous not only for its nationally-recognized wines, but also for its glass-wall visitors' center through which can be seen the entire production process.

  • Dozens of Gush Etzion and Jerusalem residents spent Tuesday morning – the fast of the calamitous day of Tisha B’Av – in the abandoned IDF army camp at Adurayim. They have been visiting the site often of late as part of a campaign to ensure that the site remains Jewish. A similar campaign in Shdema, just north of Gush Etzion, was successful.  

  • See movies of Gush Etzion, past and present, at http://gush-etzion.org.il/movies.asp