A mezuzah placed on an abandoned IDF building in the Shdema area of eastern Gush Etzion served as a victory sign for the Women in Green, who have struggled for five years to keep Arabs from occupying it and separating Jewish contiguity in the future.
The building now will serve as a cultural center, after having been abandoned in 2006 and later virtually destroyed and looted by Palestinian Authority Arabs.
Two years later, when Ehud Barak was Defense Minister, the IDF planned to give the land to the Palestinian Authority even though it is “Area C,” which under the Oslo Accords includes Jewish and Arab communities and villages that are supposed to be under complete Israeli sovereignty.
The nationalist Women in Green organized what appeared to be hopeless protests to keep the land from falling into Arab hands. They pressured the army to return to the Shedma base in 2010, and after renovations, a mezuzah was affixed to the doorpost of the building on Friday in the presence of the Deputy Minister of Religious Services Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan.
“Shdema will be a flourishing community. There will be no other sovereignty in Eretz Israel other than that of the State of Israel,” he said.
Yehudit Katsover, who along with and Nadia Matar leads the Women in Green, read a congratulatory letter by Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein, who wrote, “The Gush Etzion area has an abundant history of special women who ‘built the House of Israel.’ On one side, standing on the main road, is the tomb of the Matriarch Rachel, who weeps and ‘refuses to be comforted for her children, who are gone.’
“And on the other side stands Shdema, which connects Jerusalem and Tekoa, the place of the woman of Tekoa who acts on behalf of the unity of the people, ‘that the one who is banished be not an outcast from him.’ Israel is redeemed by the merit of righteous women, and by the merit of tenacious and fighting women, who are persistent and experienced in struggles… Shdema will yet develop and become an important and central settlement point.”
Gush Etzion Regional Council head Davidi Perl also vowed that Shdema “will be a permanent settlement.”
The Women in Green and their supporters have struggled against leftists, both Israelis and foreigners, who have encouraged Arabs to try to take over the land. The women frequently planted trees, even after Arabs uprooted them.
Attorney Herzl Yehezkel, who during his term in office as head of the Homat Shmuel (Har Homah) Community Administration worked with the women, said the effort to prevent the transfer of Shedma to Arabs “proves that determination is successful, and there is no reason not to settle everywhere.”