Residents of the Samaria town of Rehelim expressed satisfaction at this week's government decision to “legalize” the town, saying that it was long overdue, and a much-needed correction of a historical injustice. Rehelim, near Ariel, along with the towns of Sansana, near Hevron, and Bruchin, near Modi'in, were retroactively approved by a government committee headed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
All three had been built on state land, and no ownership claims have been filed against the towns by Arabs. However, the fact that the towns had not been approved previously by the government would likely have led to legal problems in the future, the committee said, and the decision retroactively provides that approval.
Nati Yisrael, a spokesperson for Rehelim, told Arutz Sheva that residents were aware that “something was cooking” regarding the town's legal status. “We knew the government was going to discuss this at some point. As far as we are concerned this is the correction of a historic injustice. We have been here and have grown for 20 years in spite of all the difficulties. Finally there is a reward for our effort,” he said.
Fifty five families live in Rehelim, which was established in 1991 in memory of terrorist victims Rachel Druck (killed in a terrorist attack in 1991 near the site of the town) and Rachel Weiss (killed along with her three children in a bus attack in 1998 in the Jordan Valley). In addition, the town is named for the Biblical Rachel, who, like the Rachel Druck and Rachel Weiss, also died as she traveled the roads of the Land of Israel.
Yisraeli expressed hope that with its new status, Rehelim would attract new residents, who could now feel secure that their housing investments were secure. “Until now we have been forced not to allow new families to join us, but we were always optimistic that this would change. We wish to thank all the officials who helped push this through, including Yesha Council head Gershon Mesika and Ze'ev Hever ('Zombish'). We call on all families who are looking for an exciting and lively place to live – whether or not they have children – to join us,” he said.
Yisraeli said that Rehelim was also very strategically located. “We are part of a chain of yishuvim in central Samaria, near Ariel and the Shiloh bloc, and connected to the Jordan Valley and the Tel Aviv population centers. We, along with Ariel and Eli, are preventing the two large Arab population centers of Ramallah and Shechem from coalescing. We are ensuring that there will not be an Arab takeover of this region.”