Approximately 150 supporters of the construction of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria gathered in a Gush Etzion community Friday for a special purpose: to plant trees - without the interference of the Civil Administration.
The tree-planting event took place specifically on this day, the 16th ("Taz") biShvat, and not on the 15th, Tu biShvat, for a reason. The heads of Women in Green, Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar, revealed that various sources alerted them to information indicating that a large scale tree planting activity, such as was originally planned, might be thwarted by the IDF Civil Administration. While both were careful not to reveal their sources, they maintained that the sources are knowledgeable and credible.
Representatives from Meitar, Hevron, Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh, Efrat, Gush Etzion, Bat Yam, New Jersey and Chicago also attended the ceremony.
They came to plant in this place as a direct outgrowth of the agricultural project to maintain a holding in the soil of Netzer, a project that the Women in Green have been promoting in recent years to curtail Arab attempts to appropriate land illegally.
Among those who came to plant trees were about 40 young members of the Elazar branch of the Bnei Akiva youth movement, who decided to “adopt” that field and to come diligently to the place to take care of the trees during the year, to weed the soil and build terraces there. Also present at the event were new immigrants who had come to Israel only three days prior, from England, Russia, France and the United States, who, in planting the seedlings in the Land, saw the fulfillment of a dream and an ancient vision.
Rabbi Gidon Perl, the Rabbi of the Gush Etzion region in general and Netzer in particular, blessed the attendees and spoke also about the obligation to apply sovereignty over this tract of land as well as the entire area of Judea and Samaria. He stressed the importance of treating land in these areas like any other area of Israel - to plant and to build without misgivings and without fear of uprooting, ruin and retreat.
“Only Israel can be the sovereign on this land.," Rabbi Perl stated. "No government has the right to surrender the people’s asset, which belongs to all previous generations and to those who will come after us, Kerry’s wrath notwithstanding."
The heads of Women in Green note that “The trees were planted in honor of the teacher, Devorah Frank, of blessed memory, from Bat Yam, who loved the Land of Israel. Members of her family and close friends came to plant and to feel the earth of Gush Etzion under their feet."
The entire event took place under the watchful eyes of the Civil Administration, who photographed the entire activity, but their presence did not overshadow the great excitement and spiritual elevation felt by those who were present among the Israeli flags waving in the morning breeze.
Katsover and Matar thanked the youths and the many visitors who came with emotional words and noted that “Thank G-d, another part of the Land of Israel gives rise not only to trees, but also to youths who are connected to this Holy Land and cling to it. The Land of Israel is acquired by deeds!” they proclaimed.