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 Settling Gush Eztion

 The Third Attempt to Renew Settlement

 The demand to redeem the mountain area from its desolation and restore the Jewish character to Mount Hebron as in days of yore did not abate.   The task of renewing the Jewish community in Etzion was entrusted to the “Kvutzat Avraham” members of HaPoel HaMizrahi. They were veterans of the HaShomer HaDati movement and Bnei Akiva in Poland, who had immigrated to the land of Israel and had established a training group near the religious Moshav Kfar-Pines. Most of the group’s members had emigrated from Poland during the Nazi reign in Germany. Many of them had defied the British blockade and boarded the “illegal” immigration ships, while members of their family were being exterminated. After many discussions and internal difficulties, the group decided that it would agree to the settlement institutions’ demand to settle the mountain despite the expected difficulties of which they were fully aware.  The main reasons prompting this decision were: (1) the inherent importance of renewing Jewish settlement in the Hebron Hills; (2) recognition of the pioneering-Zionist value inherent in  the objective of settling this Jewish region; (3) the ardent desire to redeem Jewish lands that had been purchased previously on the mountain; (4) the apprehension that these lands could again revert to Arab ownership; and (5) the aspiration to develop a new settlement area to absorb Holocaust refugees from Europe.

 

On 25 Nisan 5703 (4.30.1943), the members of “Kvutzat Avraham” accompanied by Palmach members ascended the mountain for the third time, and founded the religious Kibbutz Kfar Etzion.

 

Aside from the inherent historical value of resettling the area, this measure had immense political importance.  The Zionist-political policy had already been determined in the Tel-Hai era: The future boundary of the Jewish state would be determined by the place where the Jewish plow tilled the last furrow. Tel-Hai and Hanita had demonstrated the success of this policy in the battle to determine the boundaries of the Galilee. The stockade and watchtower communities for their part established the boundaries of the Beit Shan Valley and the Western Galilee; Gush Etzion, was similarly expected to link the Hebron Hills, replete with hostile Arab villages, to the boundaries of the State of Israel in the making.

The Difficulties in Settling the Area 

 

Ever so slowly and with much effort, the members of Kfar Etzion overcame the stony mountain and the severe economic problems that confronted them.  Water cisterns were dug, agricultural terraces were built, orchards were planted, livestock branches - barnyard and poultry - were established, the rest and recreation home was set up, and preparations were made to establish a precision mechanics factory and operate a quarry. A rich religious and general cultural life revolved around the “Neveh-Ovadia” building, named after the HaShomer HaDati leader in Poland Dr. Avraham Ovadia Gostdiener, and served as the center of cultural-religious life.

 

Stone removal in Etzion Bloc

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