Hundreds of people celebrated Independence Day in Shdema in Gush Etzion. Shdema was formerly a military base; now land of Israel activists hope to make it a new Jewish town.
“Our country is 65. Don’t worry… she isn’t planning to retire in two years,” joked Yehudit Katzover of the Women in Green group, who spoke at the event.
“We don’t plan to sit on our laurels for a minute. Here we are today in Shdema, saying – we need more! More growth… and we also need sovereignty in the land of Israel. Thank God, there is still work to do,” she said.
The state of Israel “is moving toward the borders of the promised land,” Katzover said. “Even if not consciously – that is where processes are leading.”
MK Orit Struk spoke as well. “Independence Day is a day of tremendous gratitude,” she said. “Gratitude that we were blessed to live in this generation, the generation of arising, of the beginning of our redemption… A generation in which prophecies are fulfilled, and prayers, the prayers of many generations are being answered before our eyes.”
Struk expressed her support for the initiative to create an Israeli community in Shdema. “The goal is clear: we are returning to here not only as individuals, but as a nation. We are bringing back the Israel Defense Forces, the authorities of the state of Israel,” she said.
Addressing the Women in Green, she added, “I have no doubt that just as you succeeded in the small project of Shdema, you will succeed in the big project of Israeli sovereignty [in Judea and Samaria], which more and more public figures and politicians identify with.”
The IDF left Shdema in 2006. In 2008, residents of a nearby Arab town under the Palestinian Authority were planning to build in the area, effectively turning it from Israeli state land to PA land. Israeli residents of the area worried that the plan could pose a security threat, as Shdema overlooks the road connecting Jerusalem to Gush Etzion.
The Women in Green organization responded with its own campaign to keep the land Israeli. The campaign marked a significant milestone in 2010 with the IDF’s return to the site.