A Family's Last Stand

Members of the Zar family huddled together yesterday morning at the Havat Gilad outpost caravan in which Etai and Bat Zion Zar lived for over a year.

Members of the Zar family huddled together yesterday morning at the Havat Gilad outpost caravan in which Etai and Bat Zion Zar lived for over a year. As policemen and army troops circled the outpost, west of Nablus, preparing for the possibility of forcible removal, and as over a thousand onlookers gathered at the farm plot which Etai Zar established at the site, family members discussed ideas broached in talks Tuesday night that involved Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (hooked up in a long distance call) and members of the Yesha Council.

Havat Gilad's story involves elements of bereavement. The site is named after Gilad Zar, a security officer from the Samaria regional council who was murdered near the site a year ago. The story also involves political connections - the father, Moshe Zar, is a friend of Sharon's, and is also acquainted with Ben-Eliezer. Mostly, however, the story is about deep emotional commitment displayed by family members and youths involved in the outpost movement in the Nablus area, young people who in recent years have acquired a reputation as uncompromising zealots.

Moshe and Yael Zar have seven children today. These include Etai, who established the outpost site, and Nadav, who is married to the daughter of Rabbi Moshe Levinger from Hebron. Almost all of the children, and also Gilad's widow, Hagar Zar, came to Havat Gilad yesterday. Accompanying them were settler youths, replete with knitted skull-caps, prayer books and militant-sounding declarations. Many of these young people positioned themselves yesterday morning around electricity generators and caravans, and exclaimed: "We're not moving from here."

But the atmosphere at the crowded caravan, in which Yesha Council chairman Bentzi Lieberman reviewed compromise proposals with family members, was more pragmatic. The father, Moshe Zar, reasoned that a clash with soldiers would erase all hope of attaining permits to settle at the site. Zar was briefed by Yesha Council heads about the terms of the compromise: The farm plot at the site will continue to operate, during day time hours only, but nobody is be allowed to sleep at the place. Also, Zar learned, an IDF presence could remain at the site.

Not everyone in the caravan agreed with the father's inclination to accept the compromise. Some burst into tears. One was Anat Zar, who yelled at Sharon when the prime minister came to pay respects during the mourning period for her brother: "Fight them; once you were militant." Zar left the caravan to read a short public statement, but didn't make it past the generator - he was called back to the caravan by relatives, who wanted more time to confer. Zar went out a second time and tried to read the statement, but veteran settler leader Daniella Weiss interrupted and heckled him. Calling the compromise a "disgrace." "How do you propose educating these wonderful young people here about remaining attached to Eretz Israel?" Weiss asked and accused the Zar family of "playing into the hands" of Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer, whose "next step will be to evacuate [Jews from] Hebron."

Zar said the family's decision to accept the compromise was very difficult. Weiss cried out that he is a weak-willed man. Somebody in the crowd objected to her taunts, saying, "You are talking to a bereaved father." Weiss replied that she recently lost a son-in-law at a terror attack at Elon Moreh.

By late afternoon, when most of the young people had been removed from Havat Gilad, the Defense Minister's Office released a statement denying a compromise deal had been forged with the outpost's residents. By evening, the IDF had removed most of the empty caravans from Havat Gilad, and also removed the three families from Nofei Nehamia. At any event, as the defense minister himself confirms, land owned privately by Moshe Zar around the Havat Gilad outpost site will continue to be used for agriculture (apparently, no structures will be allowed on the site).