Photo Credit: Courtesy
Yigal Dilmoni

On October 7th, we woke up to a horrible reality. Thousands of evil murderous terrorists crossed into the State of Israel from Gaza and carried out unspeakable crimes in our southern border communities. It’s difficult to comprehend that they reached the city of Ofakim, about 15 miles (25km) from the border.

That morning, Shabbat and Simchat Torah, I was awakened by a call from the security chief of my community of Avnei Hefetz in Samaria, who told me what was happening in the south.


Just two hours later, the name of the first person murdered was announced – my good friend Ofir Liebstein, head of the Sha’ar Ha’negev Regional Council, and a resident of Kfar Gaza.

Ofir was murdered on his lawn in front of his house, when he went out to fight the terrorists. His son, father-in-law, and nephew were also murdered. Ofir had designed plans for a large industrial zone to provide a livelihood for Gazan Arabs, who he viewed as his “neighbors.”

That very afternoon, I was called up for IDF reserve duty along with hundreds of thousands of soldiers. For four months I fought together with my friends in the Gaza Strip – in the north, in the center, and in Khan Yunis in the south.

Many years ago, I lived in Gush Katif, the Israeli bloc of Jewish communities in Gaza.

In 2005, under international pressure, and a bad decision by the Israeli government, the residents of Gush Katif and four communities in northern Samaria, were expelled. The State of Israel withdrew from Gaza and left the area under the self-rule of the Palestinian Authority.

Despite it all, we remained a bit hopeful. Perhaps there was a small chance that Gaza will become a flourishing region of tourism and industry.

However, a new reality, which was a kick to the gut, set in faster than we thought. Within a year, Hamas carried out a violent coup, murdered the Palestinian Authority leaders in Gaza, and seized power. Gaza became a terrorist state, an Iranian proxy.

This is not the first time Israel has experimented with withdrawals from territories it had reclaimed in the Six-Day-War. But this time it exploded in our faces like never before.

On October 7, we received a painful reminder that Hamas’ goal is to take over the entire State of Israel, from the river to the sea. They say it openly, as do their supporters.

But we will not allow this! We will defeat Hamas. Not only for Israel’s sake, but for the freedom of the entire western world, against this evil.

Israel must not give in to outside pressure to stop this war. Any concessions in Gaza, will inspire and serve as a model for the terrorist organizations in Judea and Samaria, and throughout the world.
Judea and Samaria, the land of the Bible, is a historical and national treasure. As it says in the book of Jeremiah “The children of Israel returned to their borders,” their land.

A Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria, is also key for the security and well-being of the entire country. Without our hold on these strategic mountains, the heart of the Land of Israel will inevitably become another terrorist state.

The distance between the Israeli town of Kfar Saba and the Palestinian Authority-controlled city of Qalqilya is very similar to the distance between Kfar Aza and Hamas-controlled Gaza City.

If we don’t want Kfar Saba to become Kfar Aza, and Ra’anana to become Be’eri, we must bolster the IDF presence in Judea and Samaria, and develop the communities there, for the sake of the entire country.
The withdrawal experiment failed. It’s time to help strengthen Judea and Samaria, the heart of the State of Israel and the Jewish People.


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Yigal Dilmoni is the co-founder and board member of American Friends of Judea and Samaria (AFJS), He is the former CEO of the Yesha Council.