Hilltop youth at prayer
Hilltop youth at prayer Flash 90

The Finance Committee on Wednesday approved tax breaks for 81 social welfare associations that engage in public activities. This is tax relief for donations given to bodies that comply with definitions of Section 46 of the Income Tax Ordinance and Section 61 of the Land Taxation Law, which mandate the possibility of granting the benefit.

At the request of MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz), the Roeh Haivri (Hebrew Shepherd) association was removed from the list and referred for more in-depth scrutiny by the tax authority. The Hebrew Shepherd provides services to the Education Ministry and its role is to help rehabilitate hilltop youth in Judea and Samaria.

MK Gilon said he knew the organization, "This is a non-profit association operating in illegal structures in an illegal outpost near Kfar Adumim." Gilon demanded "to examine again whether this non-profit organization is entitled to receive a benefit from the State. "A person who acts in a criminal manner is illegal and is not supposed to receive tax benefits from the State," he said.

MK Ilan Gillon
MK Ilan Gillon Flash 90

Knesset Finance Committee Chairman MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) said "the procedure in the Finance Committee determines that if one of the members of the committee demands another examination or calls for disqualifying a certain organization from receiving the benefit, we remove it from the list, at least temporarily. After the matter has been examined and all details pertaining to that organization are submitted to the Committee, it is submitted for approval again."

Gafni approached the Director of public sector institutions and non-profit organizations in the Israel Tax Authority, Erez Orad, requesting a reexamination of the Hebrew Shepherd society with a request for a reply with full details regarding its manner of operation.

Gafni summed up the discussion saying "non-profit organizations carry out important activities for the general public, for the benefit of ordinary citizens, which are carried out on more than one occasion, instead of the State, on issues that the state has privatized or has not intervened in the first place. The associations help citizens from the weaker sectors of society or, alternatively, achieve public or community goals in cases where the State does not help."

"Hilltop youth" are teens and young adults who wish to live away from the trappings of urban and village life and be closer to nature in Judea and Samaria. They are characterized by burning love of the Land of Israel which motivates their ability to live on bare hilltops with minimal facilities. Some, however, have personal or other problems that caused them to leave formal schooling environments and their homes and are in need of help, hence the Hebrew Shepherd NGO. Hilltop youth are the immediate suspects when any so-called "price tag" vandalism occurs against Arabs, although that has not been proven, but they do reject the normative Religious Zionist positions and much of what the government does. Their presence in Judea and Samaria makes them the object of leftist antagonism, as a perusal of most of the information in the Wikipedia entry for the term shows.