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October 24, 2016 / 22 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘kfar etzion’

Israelis and Arabs: “Etzion Bloc Should Be Center of Peace, Not War”

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

By Anna Rudnitsky/TPS

Efrat (TPS) – Arabs and Israelis met on Tuesday evening at the library of the Etzion-bloc community of Efrat to learn about the history of Jewish-Arab relations in the region and about the cooperation that has existed between them throughout the past century.

“We thought that it was important to show that Jewish-Arab relations do not have to be hostile and that they actually used to be friendly, at least here in Gush Etzion. We think that there is even hope for this today, despite the difficult and often bloody reality we live in,” Kfar Etzion Field School Director Yaron Rozental, who helped organize the event, told TPS.

Historian Yohanan Ben-Yaakov shared stories about the establishment of Jewish settlements in the region that he said may not be as well known as others. “Israelis are usually familiar with war stories about the Etzion bloc, about brave Jewish fighters and the numerous sacrifices that they made,” he said. “It is always presented as a very simple story—there were good guys and bad guys, and the good guys won. Relations between Jews and Arabs here were not always that black and white.”

Ben-Yaakov spoke about the settlement of Migdal Eder, the inhabitants of which were saved during the pogroms of 1929 by Arabs from the neighboring village of Beit Ummar, and about Kfar Etzion founder Shmuel Holzman’s son, a Jewish doctor who opened an infirmary near the Etzion bloc junction in 1929 with the intention of helping the local Arab population.

“It’s written in the Torah that Esau hates Yaakov, and everybody remembers these words. Few know what is written later, that he kissed him with his whole heart. These two feelings go hand in hand here today as well and it is up to us to choose between love and hatred,” Ben Yaakov concluded.

The event also featured speakers such as Dr. Yitzhak Glick, brother of MK Yehuda Glick, who received the Moskowitz Prize in 2012 for the free medical assistance he has provided to the people of the Etzion bloc, including to Palestinians, who know him as “our doctor.”

“Gush Etzion must be the center of peace not just in Israel, but in the world,” Dr. Glick maintained.

The event was also organized by Roots, a grassroots initiative which regularly facilitates meetings between Israelis and Arabs. The organization helped bring several Arabs from the nearby villages of Beit Ummar and Yatta to the event. Roots co-founder Khaled Abu Awwad said that he believes that such events could be more effective in bringing peace to the Middle East than meetings between Abbas and Netanyahu.

“Peace between our peoples must grow from the bottom up and only we can break the walls of alienation and hatred that have been put up between us,” he said. “We belong to this land, but the land does not belong to anyone so we must learn to live here together in peace.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Yom HaZikaron at the Gush Etzion Cemetery

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

More than an hour before the Yom HaZikaron ceremony was to begin at 11:00 a.m. in Kfar Etzion at the Gush Etzion Regional Cemetery this morning, hundreds of school children lined the streets, streaming towards the event.

Police and security personnel were stationed on the approach road, directing the cars and buses to park in such a fashion that there would be order going in, and an orderly departure.


The cemetery lies in a rolling series of hills, with various communities represented in plateaued graveyards, with gravel in between and lots of lush greenery and wildflowers sprouting in all the open spaces


Just recently a building was put up, until then, every memorial service and every funeral took place in the open. Israeli funerals, unlike those elsewhere, can take place any time of day or night, and they generally take place within just a few hours of death.

But for today’s Yom HaZikaron ceremony, all those in the Gush Etzion area touched by loss showed up, and here in Israel, that is almost everyone. Some family members were lost to illness, others simply to old age. But in this cemetery, as in so many cemeteries in Israel, there is a disproportionate number of graves of young people – those who fell in all the wars Israel has endured, and those who were murdered by terrorists.


For more than an hour people were milling around, visiting the various graves, placing stones of remembrance, saying tehillim.

And when the hour drew near 11:00 a.m., the small area near the speakers’ platform filled beyond overflowing. There were many dozens of soldiers in uniform, closely-cropped young men and young women with impossibly thick curls, most soldiers wearing their units’ berets, others with their berets neatly folded and pinned to their shirts.


When the sirens rang out at the stroke of 11:00, four jets in formation took off from nearby: “they’re buzzing the entire country,” a woman said, “it will take about a minute.”

And then the speeches – is it fair to call them that? The messages invoking the memories, the love, the devotion to those who had given their lives for the Jewish State, washed quickly over the crowd, interspersed with a few haunting songs including “Ani Ma’amin” (“I Believe”) and Hatikvah. Two boys from a nearby high school spoke about the loss of two graduates of the school who were killed during last summer’s war.

Israeli crying at Yom HaZikaron Ceremony at Gush Etzion Regional Cemetery, April 22, 2015.

Several speakers mentioned the abduction and murder of the three teenagers which touched off last summer’s war. Eyal Ifrach, Gilad Sa’ar and Naftali Frenkel were kidnapped just down the road from where the ceremony took place.

A chazan sang out the names of all the soldiers and the victims of terror who are buried in this cemetery, as pain crossed the faces of so many who stood listening.

A representative of the Israel Defense Forces spoke, as did two representatives of the Knesset. One, MK Ze’ev Elkin, reminded those in the audience that David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first president, famously recognized Gush Etzion as the savior of Jerusalem.

MK Zeev Elkin at Yom HaZikaron Ceremony at Gush Etzion Regional Cemetery. April 22, 2015.

MK Zeev Elkin at Yom HaZikaron Ceremony at Gush Etzion Regional Cemetery. April 22, 2015.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Gaza Terrorist Paid Hamas Brother $61,500 to Kill Teens

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Cleared for publication:  Hebron resident Hussam Qawasme was apparently paid NIS 220,000 – $61,500 – for the June 12 abduction and murder of three Israeli teens by Hamas terrorists in Gush Etzion.

Qawasme was arrested July 11 in connection with the attack, which he is credited with helping to mastermind. He reportedly received the funds for the job from his brother, a convicted Hamas official in Gaza.

According to information released Thursday by the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) it was Qawasme who hid the bodies of 19 year old Eyal Yifrah, 16 year old Naftali Frenkel and 16 year old Gilad Sha’ar, kidnapped and murdered on June 12. He had purchased the field where the bodies were stashed in shallow graves along Highway 60 in the town of Halhul, halfway between Hebron and Gush Etzion.

“In an intelligence operation launched by the Shin Bet, Hussam Qawasme was tracked down and arrested in a hideout in the Shuafat refugee camp,” the Shin Bet stated.

Hussam Qawasme was given up by another arrested accomplice who had hidden him and was also recently indicted. Hussam himself was incarcerated in Israel from 1995 to 2002. He was convicted on charges of involvement in Hamas terrorist activities, including participating in a cell that carried out bombing attacks.

“He is the son of a family whose sons have been involved in severe terror attacks on behalf of Hamas,” the Shin Bet added.

The Hamas operative planned to flee to Jordan after stashing the bodies of the three teens but instead was caught and arrested, according the a statement released Thursday by the Shin Bet following Qawasme’s indictment in the IDF military court.

Hussam Qawasme is described in court papers as a ‘command level Hamas operative.’

His brother in Gaza – who allegedly bankrolled the operation – was freed by Israel as part of the prisoner exchange deal that secured the Oct. 18, 2011 return of former IDF soldier Gilad Shalit from five years of captivity by Hamas.

The money was transferred from Gaza to Qawasme in Hebron via cash-stuffed envelopes carried by Hussam’s mother and another, unnamed woman, the indictment alleged. Among the purchases were a vehicle with which to carry out the attack and four guns.

The two kidnapper-killers, relative Marwan Qawasme and Amer Abu Aisha are still at large.

But under interrogation, Hussam Qawasme, 40, named other Hebron family members who had planned to help him escape to Jordan with a fake ID after the attack. Hisham Qawasme, 35; Jamil Qawasme, 28; and Hamas member Hassan Qawasme, 45, are all in Israeli custody.

Hana Levi Julian

Bennett Praises Govt Decision on Gush Etzion in Visit to Yeshiva Mekor Chaim

Monday, September 1st, 2014

Economics Minister and Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett praised the government today (Monday, Sept. 1) during a visit to Gush Etzion for its decision to answer terror with Jewish expansion.

Bennett visited Yeshiva Mekor Chaim in Gush Etzion on the first day of Israel’s school year Monday. The yeshiva, located in Kfar Etzion, was attended by two of the three teens martyred by Hamas terrorists this past June.

“Until a couple of months ago, you students here at Mekor Chaim were regular students. Today you are the spearhead. You now bear extra weight upon your shoulders, the “mekor chaim” – the source of life ‘’ of Israel,” he told the students.

“Yesterday the government made two decisions – one which builds up and strengthens the Gaza frontier, and the second which builds up and strengthens Gush Etzion,” he added.

Bennett praised the government’s decision yesterday to designate a tract of land near Alon Shevut, not far from the yeshiva, as state land. The lot is located close to the bus stop and hitchhiking post from where the three teens were kidnapped and subsequently murdered.

“What we did yesterday was an act of Zionism,” Bennett explained as he toured the area. “Building is our reply to murder.”

Women in Green organization leaders Nadia Matar and Yehudit Katzover also praised the decision.

“The Defense Minister has allocated 4,000 dunams for the city of Geva’ot – congratulations! We hope that this is indicative of additional positive steps in the future, not only as a reaction to the murder of Jews but as a policy – but the high tones of protest from America, the world, the left, and the Arabs reveal the depth of the problem of Judea and Samaria.

“If the government of Israel does not apply sovereignty to the expanses of Eretz Israel, this question will remain open to negotiations and endless disputes. Israeli Sovereignty must be applied, and realized by the state maintaining law and order for all its citizens – including the Beduin, the Arabs, and others. The time has come to initiate and once and for all apply Israeli sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley,” they said.

Hana Levi Julian

Abbas Tells Arab Leaders PA Forces Searching for Israeli Teen Hostages

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Palestinian Authority unity government leader Mahmoud Abbas says his forces are searching for three Israeli teens kidnapped by terrorists last Thursday.

The teens – 19 year old Eyal Yifrach, 16 year old Gilad Sha’ar and 16 year old Naftali Frenkel (who is also an American citizen) – were hitchhiking on a road in Gush Etzion on their way home from the Mekor Chaim Yeshiva in Kfar Etzion when they were abducted. The yeshiva is located in Area C – a region that is administered and secured by the Israeli authorities under the internationally-recognized Oslo Accords.

According to a report by the WAFA news agency, Abbas told a gathering of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on Wednesday that the terrorists who abducted the teens “want to destroy [us]” in what appeared to be a reference to the new PA unity government.

He did not offer details to the Muslim and Arab leaders who attended the gathering, which was held in Saudi Arabia, other than to vow that once the perpetrators were found, his government would “settle accounts with them.”

Israeli government sources said Wednesday morning they are making progress on tracking down the perpetrators; intelligence personnel have discovered which Hamas cell was responsible for the kidnapping last week.

To date, Israeli security forces have arrested some 250 Hamas terrorists who are living in various locations throughout Judea and Samaria. Included were at least who were arrested Tuesday night but who violated the terms of their early release from Israeli jails, which came as the result of a prisoner swap deal that freed former IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

The former hostage was kidnapped by Hamas and allied terrorist groups in 2006. Shalit was held captive in Gaza for more than five years. The Israeli government eventually agreed to free more than a thousand Arab terrorists – including many murderers with Jewish blood on their hands – in exchange for his return.

Hana Levi Julian

Progress in Tracking Terror Kidnappers, Slow But Sure

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Progress is being made in hunting down the terrorists responsible for kidnapping three Israeli teens in Gush Etzion last Thursday night.

Israeli authorities now know which Hamas wing was involved in the operation to abduct the boys, who were hitchhiking home for the Sabbath from the renowned Mekor Chaim Yeshiva in Kfar Etzion, where they learn during the week.

Communications Minister Gilad Erdan told an interviewer on Israeli public radio Wednesday morning that the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) is aware of which Hamas cell is responsible for kidnapping the teens.

An Egyptian official also has told international media on condition of anonymity that Cairo officials are also helping Israel to gather information about the whereabouts of the abducted yeshiva students.

“There is a flow of information but we are still short, so there is no negotiation,” the official told Reuters. He added that Egyptian officials are in contact with Hamas and other Palestinian Authority unity government factions.

Hana Levi Julian

Druze Community Shows Solidarity with Kidnap Teens’ Families

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

The spiritual leader of Israel’s Druze community has expressed solidarity and support for the families of the teenagers kidnapped by Arab terrorists last Thursday evening.

“The thoughts of all the Druze in Israel have been directed to the fate of your sons,” wrote Sheikh Muafeq Tarif, in a letter sent to the Frenkel, Yifrach and Sha’ar families on Tuesday.

Naftali Frenkel, age 16, Gilad Sha’ar, age 16 and Eyal Yifrach, age 19 were abducted by terrorists in Gush Etzion while hitchhiking home for the Sabbath after their week’s learning at the renowned Mekor Chaim Yeshiva in Kfar Etzion.

“Your destiny is our destiny, and the hope for a quick release brings you and us together. I cannot imagine where your thoughts have gone since this terrible experience began last week, but rest assured that with your strength, and tremendous faith, you will soon hug your children,” the sheikh wrote.

“As the leader of the Druze community, I want to give you strength in the face of this violent criminal act of terrorism, as there is no other way to define this,” he added.

“I know that the best combat soldiers and commanders of the Druze community have made every effort to locate the children and capture the kidnappers. This is our opportunity as a Druze minority in Israel to express solidarity with you and with security forces and the country.

“The entire Druze community prays for the release of the children and stands by you for any request or need.”

Jewish Press News Briefs

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/druze-community-shows-solidarity-with-kidnap-teens-families/2014/06/17/

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