|Families in Maaleh Rehavam - a small outpost community in eastern Gush Etzion - were surprised to note this morning that Civil Administration officials were on their way to post eviction orders on their homes. Of the 30 residents, including five families, five are in Lebanon after having been called up on emergency basis this past month, and two others are in the standing army.
Some town officials believe that the army wished to take advantage of the situation in which a quarter of the men were away to give out the notices. "It is shocking to think," town secretary Moriah Halamish said, "that with war happening on two fronts, north and south, the defense establishment finds the time to give out these orders. The State is taking advantage of the fact that our men were drafted to war in order to fulfill this new expulsion decree. Good citizens go off to fight with emergency orders, and are then forced to return to receive a slap in the face in the form of an eviction notice on their doors."
Others feel the truth is more mundane: "The bureaucracy has a calendar and a schedule, and no one thinks whether now is a good time to do it or not; it just gets done." So says Nadia Matar, co-chairperson of Women in Green, a grassroots Land of Israel organization. "The previous orders expired," she said, "and they have to be renewed, and that's it. There's no consideration as to whether right now, with people still on the front lines in Lebanon, it might not be a good idea to go ahead with destroying Jewish homes."
Postponed for a Week
In the event, Maaleh Rehavam's secretary Moriah told Arutz-7 this afternoon, "We were informed later today that the 'mission' has been put on hold. I believe this is largely due to the press coverage by Arutz-7... Zambish [Yesha leader Ze'ev Chever] called the Civil Administration, and they said they're sorry, they didn't realize, and they will postpone giving us our eviction notices for another week. But we will not rest; there is no reason for our homes to be destroyed."
Maaleh Rehavam is a mixed religious-secular community, home to five families and several singles. Residents lived in caravans for the first two years after its founding, and three permanent homes have been built in recent years. It overlooks the Judean Desert, the Herodion, Tekoa and Nokdim, home to MK Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu). The community is an eight-minute drive from Jerusalem, but the residents must now drive almost an hour due to the government's refusal to open a newly paved road.
The community is not illegal - but neither has it been officially approved, and for this reason, the government says it plans to destroy it, in keeping with its promise to the US to raze all "unauthorized" outposts. The radical left-wing Peace Now organization has filed a court suit, demanding to know why the government has not yet implemented the demolition orders it issued regarding Maaleh Rehavam and other small communities throughout Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
Click here to read Arutz-7's photo feature story on Maalah Rehavam.
Demanding an Apology
The people of Maaleh Rehavam recently demanded an apology from the Maariv newspaper for writing that their community is illegally located on private Arab property. "This article presents us as land thieves," a letter from the town's secretary states. "If a serious investigation had been done, as could be expected from a newspaper of your level, you would have found that the neighborhood is [a part of] the town of Nokdim, is totally located on state lands, and that the residents were even allocated land for planting and grazing. The neighborhood is in the process of being approved."
This was not the only time the Maariv newspaper has exposed itself to criticism of being anti-Yesha. Earlier this week it publicized a listing of cities and towns in which the soldiers killed in Lebanon had lived. However, though the chart listed the names of dozens of towns and cities, it concealed the disproportionately large role played by the towns of Judea, Samaria and Gaza by hiding them in the "others" column.
Ronen Tzafrir, of the non-religious pro-Land of Israel Nahalal Forum, had strong criticism of Maariv. "When there is something positive to say about this fantastic public," he said, "which educates towards heroism, sacrifice and love of land, suddenly Maariv forgets the word 'settlements.'"
Tzafrir called upon the public to boycott Maariv.
In fact, nearly 10% of the 117 soldiers who were killed in the five weeks of fighting in Lebanon were from towns in Yesha (Judea and Samaria) - almost twice as much as their proportionate numbers in the population. Their names:
Lt.-Col. Ro'i Klein, 31, of Eli
Lt. Amichai Merchavia, 24, Eli
Sgt. Gilad Zissman, 26, from Eli
Staff-Sgt. Yehuda Greenfeld, 27, from Maaleh Michmas
St.-Sgt. Philip Mosko, 21, Maaleh Adumim
Sgt. Yigal Nissan, 19, Maaleh Adumim
Sgt. Bnayah Rein, 27, Karnei Shomron
Sgt. Amasa Meshulami, 20, Ofrah
Corp. Ohad Kleisner, 20, of Beit Horon
St.-Sgt. Yotam Gilboa, 21, of Kibbutz Maoz Chaim in the Jordan Valley
Sgt. Gai Hason, 24, Naamah
The total population in Judea and Samaria grew by some 3% in the first half of 2006, according to Interior Ministry statistics. At the end of June, the total population in these areas stood at 260,932 people, a growth of nearly 7,200 over the previous six months. The Yesha Council welcomed the news, stating that the extra thousands of new citizens, even as the government continued to talk about uprooting them, showed the strength of the Judea and Samaria settlement enterprise.