Four mobile homes are already in place and another 10 are being refitted for Givat Salit, a new Kfar Mehola neighborhood. The area is named after Salit Sheetrit, a Sde Eliahu resident whose parents live in Mehola, who was slain in a Palestinian ambush on the Jordan Valley road six weeks ago.
The neighborhood is about a kilometer away from Mehola, and four families with young children from neighboring settlements are slated to move in.
Jordan Valley Regional Council Chair David Levy announced establishment of the new settlement a few weeks ago.
Another Jordan Valley settlement being populated is Rotem, which had been a Nahal outpost and has been taken over by two families and a number of single people, also from neighboring settlements.
This year, 22 families moved into Jordan Valley settlements, said Shulamit Kaminski, a Jordan Valley regional council official dealing with populating the area's settlements. While 53 families have left the area this year, the "wave of departures has stopped," she said.
Valley leaders met recently with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who promised that ministries would implement a plan to shore up the economically-hit agricultural settlements.
Meanwhile, Meitarim, a new industrial zone south of Hebron, has opened for business, with 300 of the planned 1,200 dunam already developed. The first company to move in produces cosmetics for the European market, while other factories include a pilot project for a plant that makes synthetic fuel from sewage and a dairy plant that will produce cheese from goat and sheep grown organically in the region.