Itamar Answers Tragedy With Growth
The horrific Fogel massacre in Itamar raised fears communities in Judea and Samaria near hostile Arab villages would have difficulty attracting new residents – but the opposite has proven itself true.
Just eight months after the tragedy that outraged and shocked the nation of Israel, Itamar's community secretariat says there have seen a record increase of families move into the community.
Since the massacre, they say, 12 families have moved to Itamar. This was compared to just 6 families moving into the community in the year preceding the murders - a clear 100% increase in the community's growth rate.
Moshe Goldsmith, chairman of Itamar's secretariat, says the trend represents the Israeli public's true spirit in answering the murders.
"I feel this has two main reasons," Goldsmith said. "One is that in general, Itamar is a community with a lot to give. There's a good company and a good atmosphere - its just a good place to live."
"The other reason is that people come filled with fire for the Zionist mission; they want to show our enemies they cannot weaken us - and that the murders will bring no long-term benefit. On the contrary, they reinforce our resolve."
Goldsmith reported Itamar was at full occupancy due to the unprecedented growth rate, but noted seven houses are available for sale.
Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika praised the residents of Itamar, "We all admire the great strength and enormous faith of the wonderful residents of Itamar. Israel can be proud of having such people."
Mesika added, according to the Interior Ministry, that Judea and Samaria's population growith from both births and residents moving into the region, is 10% - the highest in the country for two consecutive years.
Contributing to Itamar's growth is the strength of its Yeshiva, of whose 80 students ten have settled in the community.
Rabbi Avichai Ronsky, head of the yeshiva in Itamar, gave his explanation for the phenomenon: "We have seen how we are all words of the Torah. The more they are afflicted by him the more they multiply and refuse to break."
"The growth here bears witness to the determination of Israel's public to hold onto Judea and Samaria - especially when our enemies are trying to harm us. We understand the murders were motivated by our enemies trying to discourage us from maintaining our foothold in our homeland – they will not succeed."
David and Einat Cohen, a young couple from Givat Ze'ev, moved into the community less than a month ago. A student at the Itamar Yeshiva, Cohen and his wife have a daughter less than a year old.
"We decided fear would not rule our lives," explains Cohen, "In the end, it is good town to live in. The first night… it was hard to sleep, but we have great support from our community, the yeshiva, and our parents. We know we've made the right choice."
"People here do not base their lives on the murders," Cohen added. "Life is stronger than death."