What Hermesh, Mevo Dotan, Elon Moreh, Itamar, Bracha, Yitzhar, Ateret, Ma'ale Amos, Miz, Carmi Tzur, Telem, Adora, Negohot, Beit Hagai and Otniel have in common? According to the new US “peace plan”, these Jewish communities will become “enclaves in the Palestinian State”.
These towns are also the home of the most brave of Israeli Jews. Those who have some familiarity with Judea and Samaria know that, the more isolated you go to live, the more you have to be brave. And the more isolated these communities are, the more essential for Israel's security and memory they become.
There live the Jews who were ready to risk everything, home, life, children, sleep. They live far off the safety tracks, away from the fence, away from the blocs, away from the busy streets. Every time they get into a car, they take risks. They are the home of 13,000 Jews.
The Israeli army during the Second Intifada, or “Oslo War”, created a “SSZ”, a special security area of four hundred meters around the settlements most at risk of terror attacks. The first to obtain it were Mevo Dotan and Hermesh lying in a deadly triangle including Jenin, Tulkarem and Nablus.
Mevo Dotan today is the nothern and most isolated Jewish town in Samaria. Going there is a long trip in a no man's land. You live civilization far back beyond the 1967 border.
In Hermesh, which is mentioned in the US plan, I met Boaz Meleth, a farmer and father of 8 children. “We came here to live after Ariel Sharon took away the five northern Samaria settlements, because northern Samaria was in grave danger,” Meleth told me. “There were only 20 families left here. Out of 100 buildings, 80 were empty. The people had run away. Two girls were killed here. People were terrified”.
Elon Moreh’s houses are the most eastern in Judea and Samaria, the most isolated and exposed. It is hard to keep a list of the Jews killed for keeping alive this community. Many were murdered inside their own houses and beds. From Bracha, another mentioned community, you can see Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Jordan Valley. It is a major security outpost.
The sign for Negohot alerts you: “Israelis are not allowed”. We proceed among two or three Palestinian Arab villages. Shaked Avraham, a seven months old baby, was killed by a Palestinian terrorist who entered this wonderful small Jewish community, while its residents were celebrating the Jewish New Year.
I met Asaf Fried there. From his terrace, you can see everything, from Gaza to Tel Aviv including the Ashkelon plant. “The government expected that Negohot would collapse on itself” he told me. “We have not made it possible. Today there are 50 families. Ehud Barak in 1999 gave our road to the Palestinian Authority, it was an experiment. For seven years, that road was closed because of the terror attacks. Before we took half an hour driving from here, in the Intifada I needed two and a half hours”.
Ateret, with its unique musical yeshiva for high school boys, is a community between two large Arab blocs - Bir Zeit and Salfit. It is essential for Israel to keep it. Yitzhar overlooks Wadi Qana, where terrorists travel from Nablus, a Jihadist hotbed, in the direction of Tel Aviv.
The road between Hevron and Otniel is the “cursed 16 kilometers”: 25 Israelis have lost their lives in terror attacks. In this region only 10 thousand Jews live, because it is off the track of the anti-terrorism fence and is one of the most isolated regions of the whole of Judea. The road becomes very dangerous after Kiryat Arba and to do it you have to skirt numerous Palestinian villages. It is easy for a terrorist to stand by the roadside, shoot and disappear in a village.
During the Second Intifada, Otniel was shaken by a terrible attack. December 27, 2002 was a Friday night, and a group of terrorists entered the community in the school to massacre Jews who celebrated the Sabbath. In the kitchen some boys prepared food, in the hall dozens danced ecstatically. Noam Apter closed himself with the terrorists in the kitchen, thus blocking access to the room and saving the others. He paid for his gesture with his life. Four died. Their photos adorn the community today. Hevron's minarets dominate the nearby landscape. A yellow gate overlaps between the outside world and Otniel.
The strangling and eviction of these communities will mean the end of a Jewish presence in the southern Hevron hills.
Everybody knows that if you forfeit these small, isolated Jewish towns outside the largest of the bourgeoise blocs, the whole of Judea and Samaria will be lost. Eretz Israel will be in danger. Palestinian Arabs with weapons will be free to circulate in areas 3-5 kilometers from Rosh Ha'Ayin, Shoham, and Petach Tikvah, from Modiin, Afula, Efrat and Jerusalem.
These Jewish enclaves are like the “tower and stockade” kibbutzim established from 1936 to 1938 in isolated regions far from other Jewish settlements. Ein Gev, the first modern Jewish settlement on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, could be reached only by sea for several years.
These small communities keep terrorists from taking over the area and serve as buffer zones for the larger Israeli cities. Without many of these settlements, Israel's strategic space would shrink to Kalkilya.
Only passionately convinced people would visit this Jewish town. I did it many times. And I warn Israel: don't freeze and abandon these communities! These are not “enclaves”, but the heart of Eretz Yisrael.
Giulio Meotti is an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author of several books, those in English are "A New Shoah", that researched the personal stories of Israel's terror victims, published by Encounter and "J'Accuse: the Vatican Against Israel" published by Mantua Books.. His writing has appeared in publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Gatestone, Frontpage and Commentary.