Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett and minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked plant
Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett and minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked plantGershon Elinson/Flash90

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and MK Shuli Mualem of the Jewish Home party arrived in Tekoa on Sunday morning to plant trees in honor of the holiday of Tu B’Shevat which begins tonight. 

Other notables who attended the event were head of the regional council Rabbi David Perl, deputy head of the council Moshe Swill, and Head of the Education Department of Gush Etzion Ariel Nisan.

The dignitaries took part in a planting ceremony which was held at the A”hi School, a local high school that integrates both secular and religious students. The school is located just scant meters away from the site of last week’s terror attack in which Michal Froman was injured.

The students welcomed the ministers and dignitaries to the school with musical excerpts and some poetry.

“From the earliest days of Zionism, there was terror," Bennett said at the ceremony. "The answer has always been settling the land and counterattacks. The terrorists are trying to break us. Only when they truly understand that we are sprouting forth, only when they understand that there is no hope of establishing a Palestinian state here, only then will they come to terms with our presence.”

Bennett blessed the students: “May we all continue to grow and and be strengthened in our homeland that we love, and may we fulfill the words of the prophet Amos ‘And you will plant on your own land, and may the land which I gave to you never be abandoned to again.’”

Shaked also addressed the ceremony, saying “The nation of Israel wants to live in its land in peace and security. Those who seek our downfall want to spill our blood and uproot us from our homes." 

"We saw an example of this last week Sunday with the heinous murder of Dafna Meir," she continued. "The answer that we need to make heard in the ears of our adversaries is that they cannot break the spirit of Israel. From this great tragedy, we will continue to plant and to grow, and to regenerate the settlement building in our beloved homeland of Israel.”

Rabbi David Perl thanked the ministers for coming and strengthening the community, noting that "Tu B’Shevat teaches us two important ideas." 

"The first lesson is that planting is the symbolic act of doing something for someone else. We are planting trees even though we won’t benefit from the fruit, but our children will enjoy the fruit that is planted here, knowing that Israel will always continue to live in Gush Etzion." 

"The second lesson is that we all have to live together, without each other we won’t survive. The communities in Gush Etzion emphasize these two lessons and values, and this is what gives us the power and motivation to face any challenge that comes our way.”