“You spread a table for me in full view of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my drink is abundant.” Psalms 23:5 (The Israel Bible™)
In the wake of the Palestinian terror attack that killed Raziel Shevach, a call has gone up among the Jews in Samaria to build up their communities, especially the town Shevach loved: Havat Gilad.
On Tuesday, Shevach was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting as he drove on the deserted highway. A conflict ensued when Shevach’s widow decided to honor her deceased husband’s expressed wish to be buried in Havat Gilad, which has no cemetery due to the conflict over its legal status. After a short dispute, the Israeli government relented and permitted the burial to take place.
Moshe Zar expressed a powerfully Jewish reaction to the tragic murder in his graveside eulogy.
“When Jews are in mourning it’s customary to say, ‘May G-d console you among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem‘. When we build a new community or a new home in our country, we say ‘Blessed is He who ensconces the widow within her own borders’. There is no other consolation except for building. The Jews return from exile to the Land of Israel, which is called a widow, and builds it up. This is revenge. For every house built in the Land of Israel, it’s as if we liquidated ten terrorists. When we build a settlement – it’s as if we’d killed ten-thousand terrorists.”
Avigdor Liberman, the Israeli Defense Minister, was criticized by the left-wing after he stated, in response to the killing, that the government would consider legalizing the outpost. Liberman said that he will present to the Civil Administration’s Higher Planning Subcommittee an immediate construction plan for 1,285 homes for 2018, as well as advance planning for 2,500 other homes in another 20 settlements.
His statements were echoed by other Israeli leaders. Education Minister Naftali Bennett, spoke at Shevach’s funeral, calling for more Jewish building in response to Palestinian terror.
“You are the pioneers of Havat Gilad, the real heroes who are holding onto the land and building our country. Our enemies think they could make us abandon the land. We crush their hopes by becoming stronger, building communities and having children. You are doing your duty. Now it is the politicians’ turn to do ours,” he said.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked tweeted similar settlements, writing, “May God avenge his blood, will not be left without a response. Our answer will be to legalize the community of Havat Gilad.
“Simultaneously, it is important to approve construction throughout Judea and Samaria,” she added. “They wish to uproot, we will build. The Palestinian Authority encourages and funds terrorists; we will make life bloom. The Palestinians will understand that murder of Israelis also hurts them.”
Because of its status, Havat Gilad is not currently hooked up to electricity and relies on a makeshift connection to the power grid. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the Defense Ministry on Thursday to officially hook up Havat Gilad to the electricity grid. The move could be seen as a step toward legalizing the hilltop community.
Culture Minister Miri Regev strongly supported the move.
“It’s untenable that the widow, Yael, does not know when she will have electricity, when she can shower her children, or when she can tell the mourners to come to console her [due to problems with telephone coverage],” said Regev.
Samaria Regional Council Head Yossi Dagan was pleased but felt the move was bittersweet.
“It is humiliating that we are discussing this at all,” Yossi Dagan added. “It should have been done a long time ago – it is privately-owned land, belonging to the people who founded the community. It is not at all clear why it’s taken sixteen years to legalize a town like this.”
Havat Gilad was established in 2002 in memory of Gilad Zar, son of Moshe Zar and security coordinator of the Shomron Regional Council, who was shot and killed in 2001. It is located on land allegedly privately owned by Moshe Zar who has been purchasing land from individual Palestinians. Selling property to Jews is a crime in the Palestinian Authority, punishable by death. Havat Gilad is considered an unauthorized outpost by the Israeli government and is on a list of outposts that Israel promised the U.S. to dismantle. The outpost was dismantled several times, but settlers have returned and re-established it.