Yoel Tzur, a resident of Beit El who lost his wife Ita and son Efraim in a terror attack in 1996, appealed to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday to work to stop the planned demolition of the community’s Ulpana neighborhood.
Tzur noted Netanyahu himself supported the establishment of Ulpana. He pointed out that after the terror attack, which took place during Netanyahu’s first time as Prime Minister, Netanyahu promised that a new neighborhood – what later became the Ulpana neighborhood – would be built in Beit El as a response to the attack.
“I am calling out to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, because this depends only on him,” Tzur said. “We have heard what the MKs said, there is no need to add anything. I will just remind you, Mr. Prime Minister: Fifteen years ago you accompanied our community after the disaster that befell us with Ita and Efraim. You personally accompanied our family. And it was fifteen years and a few months ago that we said, just below where we stand, in the cemetery, that a large neighborhood needs to be built here. You promised, and you delivered.”
He added, “I am addressing your feelings, your heart and your wisdom, to find the proper ways not to enable the decree that was decreed here, which you yourself said is one that the public cannot bear. Harm caused to the Ulpana neighborhood is harm to our community and to our beloved ones who gave their lives – and even then you told me, and I told you, and we strengthened each other – that wherever there is a terror attack, we will build a settlement.”
The terror attack in which Yoel Tzur lost his wife and son occurred in December of 1996, during the holiday of Chanukah, as the Tzur family was making its way home to Beit El. A gray Subaru car with three terrorists was hiding on the road on which the family traveled, waiting for victims.
As Yoel Tzur entered the intersection to Beit El, he slowed down the car and at that moment, the terrorists emerged from their vehicle and opened fire at the Tzur family. They fired dozens of bullets and then fled towards Ramallah.
Yoel’s wife, Ita, and son, Efraim, died in the attack. One of his daughters was seriously wounded. The terrorists who carried out the attack were captured and jailed by the Palestinian Authority but were eventually released. In June of 2006, almost ten years after the attack, the IDF captured the terrorists.
The Ulpana neighborhood is one of several Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria over which the threat of demolition hangs after a Supreme Court ruling. The communities were built with state cooperation, but the lands on which they stand are disputed. Legal experts have said that a reasonable solution would be compensation to any claimants who could prove ownership, since the homes have been standing for many years without being contested.
Beit El was founded in 1977 - ten years after the Six Day War - when a group of Jewish families took up residence in open land adjacent to the local IDF base.
A religiously observant community associated with the religious Zionist movement, Beit El was granted municipal status in 1997.
Gil Ronen contributed to this report.