Guarded by IDU, new Samaria town grows despite nightly siege

Guarded by the Israel Dog Unit, the new town of Evyatar grows despite nightly protests against its existence.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

מלווה מלכה ביישוב אביתר
מלווה מלכה ביישוב אביתר
צילום: דוברות אביתר

One week into their existence, residents of the newly established town of Evyatar find themselves in the path of the same riots that are plaguing Jerusalem. Night after night of large crowds, bonfires, and militant chants can be clearly seen and heard from nearby Beita; since Friday’s disturbance, every night has seen increased protests opposite the new town.

IDU dog handler keeping watch during one of the nightly bonfire-lit protests opposite Evyatar. (IDU Public Relations)

Evyatar currently lacks any official status as a city and is in fact in danger of being demolished as illegal construction; as such, it is not eligible for the usual government grants to help it build and guard a perimeter. Residents hope that a bill for young localities, currently making its way through the Knesset, will grant them swift and complete legitimization, with all that it implies. Samaria governor Yossi Dagan, visiting Evyatar to host a concert there this past Saturday night, called for the government to pass the bill with no further ado; it has since gathered support in the Knesset, with the Yamina party announcing their backing just today (Monday).

Although an IDF assessment of the rising tensions in the area has seen a small detachment of soldiers stationed in Evyatar on an ongoing basis, the main work of guarding the town falls to groups of volunteers; residents of all areas across the Green Line arrive daily to stand guard and help erect or refine buildings. One such volunteer commented that the influx of manpower was promising, but not enough. “We have had hundreds of visitors since we broke ground here,” he relates, “But if we are to hold this position and gain genuine recognition, we will need thousands, tens of thousands even.”

The Israel Dog Unit, a nonprofit involved in protecting vulnerable towns and farms throughout Israel, has been standing guard in Evyatar every night. IDU director Yekutiel Ben-Yaakov commented that there has barely been a quiet night since construction was started on the town.

“Even when we were called to Ashkelon for an urgent search-and-rescue mission on Friday night, we could not afford to take all our volunteers; doing so would have left Evyatar fatally exposed. Arabic social media accounts and platforms have been filled with messages calling for help to ‘retake Evyatar’. Our volunteers standing guard can see the bonfires, hear the shouts of Allahuh ahbar and Itbach al-Yahud. We are using every means at our disposal to hold out here - our volunteers and guard dogs stand watch all night, every night, and our thermal imaging UAVs scout the area regularly to keep both us and the army apprised of every movement. Working alongside the IDF and INP, we have already headed off multiple attempts to infiltrate or invade the town.”

IDU dog handler watching a disturbance of the peace in the valley below Evyatar. (IDU Public Relations)

Evyatar sits some two kilometers east of Tapuach Junction, where the deadly shooting of Yehuda Gauta took place, controlling a critical road into the Jordan Valley. Residents broke ground there the night of the shooting, and have enjoyed widespread public support ever since; hundreds flocked to Evyatar for a Melaveh Malka party joined by Samaria governor Yossi Dagan and Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Chief Rabbi of Tzfat.