The Outpost Exchange

When I first read the news that several outposts were going to be given permits and saved from evacuation, I started to feel pleased? but at the same time, something did not seem right.

Aliza Karp

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When I first read the news that several outposts were going to be given permits and saved from evacuation, I started to feel pleased? but at the same time, something did not seem right.

I realized that this may very well be a tactic of the government to placate those who support outposts, to make us feel that the government is turning our way, appeasing us, so we will be less zealous in our defense of those outposts slated for destruction.

In the spring of 2003, an outpost in the Shomron, known as Mitzpeh Yitzhar, located about a mile and half from the town of Yitzhar, was evacuated. The evacuation took 1,000 security personnel and 10 hours to complete. The residents of Mitzpeh Yitzhar returned immediately and set up tents.

[Photos of outpost Mitzpeh Yitzhar]

Mitzpeh Yitzhar was an outpost consisting of a main tent, with a living area, old furniture and bookcases, a well organized makeshift kitchen and a sleeping area. The WC was a small structure nearby with a makeshift Mikveh for men. (Chassidic men go to the Mikveh on Erev Shabbos, some go daily.) Two bochurim, the permanent residents of Mitzpeh Yitzhar, lived in the tent, while other bochurim would give support and extra security by sleeping in a nearby bunkhouse. They also had a trained guard dog.

The reason it took so long for the government to dismantle Mitzpeh Yitzhar was due to the number of supporters who flooded the area to help secure the outpost. The army blocked the roads for miles around, but supporters climbed the steep, rocky, uphill approach to Mitzpeh Yitzhar by foot.

The Erev Shabbos immediately following the evacuation, to avoid a continuing demonstration of support for Mitzpeh Yitzhar, the army closed the roads leading to the town of Yitzhar and its outposts to all but residents. No guests were allowed in for Shabbos.

It seems to me that if the government were to evacuate larger, more established outposts, many with functioning agricultural industries, they would be risking a fight that might ignite a civil war. Therefore, I cannot see the government taking the risk of evacuating larger outposts, so they are graciously granting these outposts permits.

Gracious? They have no choice! And the truth is: It is horrendous that these places, which have applied for permits time and again, have been denied permits for so long. These are not illegal settlements. These are Jewish families living on Jewish land. The real illegal aspect in this case has been the withholding of permits.

So, when you hear the news that some outposts are being legalized, don?t be too quick to think things are looking up. The politicians may very well turn to us and say, we gave the large outposts to you, now let us have the small ones. No way!

We need every outpost.

The outpost movement started a few years ago when settlers observed the multitude of illegal Arab outposts being built with nothing done to stop them. Arabs were grabbing more and more land, so that in a short time they would be right up against the Jewish settlements. There would be no room for the Jews to expand and there was a danger of siege.

When Arabs build illegal outposts they are not afraid of being infiltrated by Jewish terrorists. The leftist press can root and toot all day about the second Jewish underground, but the Arabs know it is all hot air; they are not worried. They just keep on grabbing land, building and planting. They have no fear of terrorists and they are confident that they will not be removed by the government.

Jewish outposts are different. Only the bravest youth and families can endure the isolated life of an outpost. They have to be on the alert for terrorists and for the evacuation forces. When they build, they know their structures may be destroyed and their personal belongings burnt.

Outposts are established by youth or families who set up a residence outside of, but usually within a few miles of, an established settlement. Some outposts are a few years old and have many families who live in actual homes. More recent outposts are composed of mobile homes, commonly referred to as ?caravans?. New outposts usually consist of tents.

The security establishment acknowledges the strategic importance of the outposts, most of which are on hilltops. Outposts surrounding a town are known to be a more effective deterrence to terrorists than security fences, and for good reason.

After its evacuation, the bochurim did return to Mitzpeh Yitzhar, but they are not as isolated as before and they no longer need a guard dog. They have round-the-clock army supervision. But the army is not there specifically to protect them. The army is there to prevent them from building.

The bochurim now live in smaller tents. The army won?t let them use their previous location on the crest of the hill, so their tents are off to the side, where setting up their larger, more comfortable tent is not feasible. Due to the close supervision, they have not been able to rebuild the bunk house. Through all this, their dedication and self sacrifice is amazing. They stuck it out last winter, a very harsh winter in Eretz Yisroel, and this year, with even more sparse accommodations they will remain steadfast.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe taught that the establishment of settlements is essential. It should be done with simcha and gladness of heart and not necessarily with a loud voice. Quoting from the Chumash, Parshas Lech Lecha, the Rebbe tells us to learn from Avraham, who took possession by actually walking on the land. He stressed that, nowadays, it is essential to settle the land in order to secure possession. Which means, the Rebbe emphasized, settling all the land.

All the land, means all the hilltops. We cannot trade this one for that one. An outpost exchange - give us a permit for this one, and we will not fight for that one - does not apply.