The Settlement Project Is No Burden

Israel Harel
Israel Harel
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The Evyatar outpost on Wednesday.
The Evyatar outpost on Wednesday.Credit: Hadas Parush
Israel Harel
Israel Harel

Many hateful things have been written and said about Evyatar. The most objectionable are the ones served in shiny “professional” wrapping: Since the outpost provokes the local Arabs, it is a security liability.

It’s one thing for the opponents of the settlement movement to say such things. They have always used cover excuses to fight against the Jewish people’s hold on the heart of the Land of Israel. But this time the approach was adopted – openly – by the head of the Israel Defense Forces Central Command. He, and also senior officials in the Civil Administration, added a “legal” aspect: The outpost, reporters were told, was built on private land and is therefore “not legal.” Not only are settlers stealing land, they are also endangering our soldiers. And not only them – the settlement is liable to cause a renewal of terror attacks on civilians.

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Let us begin with the legal aspect. The agreement between the government and the residents of the outpost states that the latter shall evacuate the premises, and a land survey shall be conducted at the site. If that is the case, how can the chief of Central Command General already know that “the land is private”?

Graver is the claim that the presence of Jews at the site endangers Israeli soldiers and citizens (we shall ignore the fact that in so arguing, the senior officer and a few of his subordinates have put themselves at odds with the political leadership). After all, Maj. Gen. Tamir Yadai, you would never consider treating property disputes of a nationalist/political nature in the Galilee or the Negev this way. This is because the IDF does not take an independent stand on the legal aspects of civilian disputes. This is why you, rightly, did not warn that settling Jews in Acre, Jaffa, Lod or Ramle is provocative (as in fact it is, as we recently learned, lethally so). Your job is to protect Jews from Arabs, not to incite against them. What caused you to dive headfirst into the fray in the case of Evyatar?

And now, to the heart of the matter: The Arab response to Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel has always been violent, before and after Israel’s founding. And yet, the defensive forces of the time did not warn that settlement would “inflame the situation.” On the contrary, they advised the political leadership to turn a threat into an opportunity. Would that Yitzhak Sadeh, Yigal Allon and their fellow military founders, pioneers of the “scythe and sword” ideology, were still among us. Even if certain IDF commanders think otherwise, “the plow’s last furrow,” settlement, defined the borders of the state, and the military (“Upon borders shall our tents stand”) supplied a defensive wall. It did so gladly, out of a sense of mission – not in petulant submission to orders from the political leadership.

As long as there was Jewish settlement in Gaza, the army operated deep within the Strip. It pursued terrorists, as it does today in Judea and Samaria, and blocked the establishment of rocket factories. There were terror attacks, there were mortar shell barrages, but there was no need to intercept rockets over Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, or to suffer casualties in Ashdod and Ashkelon, and certainly not to close Ben-Gurion International Airport, a symbol of sovereignty (and of culture) for many of the architects of the withdrawals.

If Evyatar remains standing, the IDF and the Shin Bet security service will continue to make camp in the center of the center of the country (that is not a metaphor). As a result, the rocket threat to populations along the coast will remain minimal, if not nil. And for the information of the IDF senior command: This, in a nutshell, is the Zionist school of security theory, from the days of the Second Aliyah until today.

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