Solidarity Rally Defends Hitchhiking for Stranded Judea-Samaria
Women in Green held a moving rally for the safety of kidnapped teens Naftali Frenkel (16), Gilad Sha'ar (16), and Eyal Yifrah (19) Friday, campaigning for public awareness and solidarity at the Gush Etzion hitchhiking post where the boys were kidnapped.
Founder Nadia Matar spoke about the rally to Arutz Sheva, explaining the importance of showing support in such a public sphere.
"We came here with two messages," Matar stated. "First of all, that we pray for their safe release; second, that we came to strengthen - as the signs say - the soldiers, our dear soldiers, who are working, who are looking for them relentlessly, day and night."
Matar also emphasized, however, that the rally aimed to strengthen not only the soldiers and families - but also Judea and Samaria residents who are forced to make hitchhiking part of their daily routine. Several women carried signs stating "Hitchhikers, we are with you."
"Now, abroad, it is maybe less understood - because abroad, in America and in Europe, there is no culture of hitchhiking," she explained. "But here in Israel, there is, especially in Judea and Samaria, where its also a very big chessed [lovingkindness - ed.] project."
Matar explained that, due to the lack of public transport in the region, picking up hitchhikers is widely considered a mitzva [good deed - Judaism - ed.], helping neighbors and friends get to their schools and workplaces.
It should be noted that for political and financial reasons, buses in Judea and Samaria are infrequent, and hitchhiking home has become a way of life for residents across Judea and Samaria and is a widely accepted - and common - practice.
Car travel is too expensive for many families, due to both a 150% sales tax on new vehicles in Israel, and gas prices topping 7.66 shekel per liter ($6.50 per gallon).
But the matter is also an issue of not letting terrorism - and fear - win, according to Matar.
"The hitchhiker stands here and says 'I am not afraid, I will go anywhere, and I will drive anywhere, and I will walk anywhere,'" she said.