Ofra is one of the largest and oldest settlements in the West Bank with close to 3,000 residents. Haaretz reported in June 2007 that 179 of the 600 buildings in Ofra were built on Palestinian land, and considered illegal according to a report by the Israel Civil Administration. This past spring, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israel's High Court that he will not implement a court order to demolish nine houses within Ofra allegedly built on Palestinian land.
Ofra was established in the mid-1970s on an abandoned Jordanian army camp about 25 kilometers north of Jerusalem. The settlers lobbied then-defense minister Shimon Peres not to evict them from the base. Peres agreed as long as it was considered a "work camp."
The site survived while the Labor-controlled government, which opposed settlement expansion, removed others in the area. With the victory of the Likud party in 1977, the Israeli government officially recognized the settlement as a civilian community - the first of its kind in the heart of the northern West Bank.
The slideshow is voiced by Ofra resident Ruchie Avital, who gives her perspective on the settlement issue.
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