reches migron 224.88.
(photo credit: Abe Selig)
In keeping with what has become a holiday tradition in past years, right-wing activists and their supporters set out for three different locations in the West Bank on Sunday, breaking ground for two new unauthorized outposts and adding on to a third in honor of Succot.
The inauguration of the two new sites took place at Reches Sela, near Nablus, and at Ma'alot Halhoul, near Kiryat Arba. Another, larger gathering, complete with a treasure hunt, arts and crafts activities for kids and an evening concert with Udi Davidi, took place at Reches Migron, a small makeshift outpost set up in the last six months outside of the original Migron outpost in the area of the Binyamin Regional Council.
The two activist groups - The Land of Israel Faithful and Youth for the Land of Israel - have used holidays in past years as a time to bring people to various hilltops and outposts for similar ground-breaking activities, none of which have blossomed into full-fledged outposts.
At Reches Migron, members of Youth for the Land of Israel told The Jerusalem Post that they had been living on the land for over six months, and that the holiday guests were meant to strengthen their presence on the hilltop.
"We don't plan to just be on one hilltop," a girl named Tehila said. "We hope to expand over the whole mountain and connect it to the existing roads."
She also explained that the last half-year there had not been without its challenges.
"A month after we came out, the civil administration came out here and confiscated everything. They took books, clothes; I had to buy a new pair of glasses, and they arrested me and another girl and detained us for questioning. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm pretty sure that wasn't legal," she said.
"A few months later some of the local Arabs came and stole our goats," she added.
An army vehicle was stationed at the entrance to Migron on Sunday, but they didn't interfere with the event going on nearby.
The IDF responded that they were in no way assisting in the construction of illegal outposts, and that all of the illegal outposts that were put up will be taken down.
Down the road, a group of teenage boys sat in a grove of olive trees between two hastily constructed homes, smoking and playing guitar. They explained that they were on break from yeshiva and had come out in a showing of solidarity, as well as for the Udi Davidi show.
"It's important to come out here and support the people who live here," one of the boys said, as the others looked on in silent agreement. "We have to show that we're serious about living here, or else the government will try and take it away from us."
Meanwhile, residents of the original unauthorized Migron outpost are worried about just that. They have yet to sign onto an agreement between the Defense Ministry and the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip to relocate the outpost to an adjacent location authorized for settlement activity.
But even as they insist that they have no intention of leaving their outpost, first constructed in 2002, they have been wary of the fledgling attempts to set up a secondary outpost nearby - even though the move is intended to help prevent their own exodus from the site, which has been deemed illegal by the High Court of Justice.
The teens and young adults at Reches Migron said they believe the Migron residents are afraid that the new, younger crowd building outside their fence will only draw unwanted attention to an already embattled settlement.
"They're very against us," one girl said as she stood next to a shack where a family of five lives. "They never come down here, they won't pick us up at the hitchhiking station, and even the rabbi of the yishuv has come out strongly against us being here. They say we're making too much noise."
Regardless, as the muezzin in the nearby Arab village of Muchmas sounded the call to afternoon prayer, families from both sides of the Green Line spent their fifth day of Succot sitting the shade of olive tress and making arts and crafts with their children, supporting a cause they say is for all of Israel.
Throughout the afternoon, more and more people trickled in - a combination of adults pushing strollers and teenagers with cut-off jeans and side curls - enjoying the mild fall weather and the panoramic view. By nightfall, the crowd numbered near 200, and car after car kept coming in.
A rabbi who spoke to the crowd for a brief lecture said that illegal settlement activity was what the entire country had been built on, and began not with the Nachal or the Palmach, but Abraham and Isaac.
"We're not doing this for ourselves, or for the right wing, or for the national religious," he said. "We're doing this for all of Israel, the nation of Israel. Even the leftists, who are so against us in our efforts, the holy soul inside of them, that's connected to the Jewish people, we're doing it for them too. They just haven't realized it yet."
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.