Israeli State-funded NGO That Built Illegal West Bank Outpost Now Trying to Legalize It

The West Bank outpost near Kfar Adumim currently operates as a site for rehabilitating radical settler youths

The outpost near Kfar Adumim currently functions as a site for rehabilitating radical settler youths. January 2017
Olivier Fitoussi

The nonprofit organization called the Jewish Shepherd, which is funded by the Education Ministry, is seeking to retroactively legalize an unauthorized outpost erected by Kfar Adumim.

The road to the outpost, which was built on “Hill 387” near Route 1 connecting Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, passes over privately owned Palestinian land. The homes were erected without permits on the hill, which is state land. The court has ordered their demolition.

Ultimately the goal of this NGO, which was established by the Education Ministry and provides services to the ministry, is to get the kids back in school or the army.

Sometimes the organization’s reps bring youth from other outposts in the West Bank to this outpost.

The IDF's Civil Administration for the West Bank has never discussed the organization’s petition to legitimize the outpost, which was submitted this summer.

In its request, the organization calls the outpost the “Jewish Shepherd – Educational Institution” and defines itself as the founder of the outpost.

The organization’s budget from the Education Ministry is 700,000 shekels ($200,000) a year.

The Education Ministry has denied in the past that it engages in building settlements.

The Education Ministry said on Tuesday that “it will continue to treat youths who drop out,” but did not comment on the other issues concerning Jewish Shepherd and the outpost.

The Education Ministry did not respond to a question from Haaretz on why it had previously provided false information on the matter earlier this year.  The goal of the Jewish Shepherd is to rehabilitate the so-called "hilltop youth," young Jews who dropped out of school in favor of promoting Greater Israel from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, under the auspices of the settlement movement.

In January, Haaretz reported that the Education Ministry and Binyamin Regional Council provide support to the outpost.

The ministry claimed that the organization was not the founder of the outpost.

Asked whether it was aware of the organization’s settlement activities, the ministry stated, “The Jewish Shepherd absolutely does not settle hills and absolutely does not engage in construction, and any suggestion that it does is entirely groundless.”

In the past, the Civil Administration confirmed that the road to the outpost had been paved on private Palestinian land, as shown in aerial photographs, obtined by Dror Etkes of the Kerem Navot civil society organization.

The Civil Administration also confirmed that the road and structures were built wihtout permits and that demolition orders had been issued for them.

Since January however there has been no enforcement of those orders. The administration says that it will examine the request to legalize the outpost.