17 Ulpana families relocate peacefully

Families join 15 others who already peacefully relocated to modular homes inside the Beit El settlement.

Crane removes belongings from Ulpana outpost 370 (photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
Crane removes belongings from Ulpana outpost 370
(photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
In one of his last gestures in his Ulpana outpost apartment, Didi Dikstein took down from his living room wall the photograph of his parents and brother who were killed 10 years ago by a terrorist near Hebron.
After their death, Dikstein said, as he roamed from place to place in an unsettled way, their photograph was an anchor he took with him.
“My parents were with me always,” Dikstein told the small group of reporters who stood with him in his almost empty apartment on the outskirts of Beit El.
It was only in Ulpana with his wife, Oriya, that he finally felt at home, Dikstein told them.
The first thing he did was to hang his parents’ photograph in his living room, above the beige sofa. At the time, he hoped he had put it up for the last time.
“Even when I came here, the most special thing I brought with me was their photograph,” he said. “I felt as if they were with me.”
“The Land of Israel was very dear to them. They gave their life for this country,” he said, adding that he felt that in moving to a home in Judea and Samaria he was walking in their footsteps.
“A home is not just four walls. It is everything that we did here. It is part of our soul,” Dikstein said. “That is how we feel,” he added.
The loss, he said, runs very deep.
His family was one of 17 who on Thursday peacefully moved out of their homes, in compliance with a High Court of Justice mandate to evacuate five stone apartment buildings in the outpost by July 1. The 18th family was carried out by police officers later that evening.
Already on Tuesday, 15 of the families had moved to a modular housing site in Beit El. The government plans to physically move their homes and relocate them to an authorized tract of land there, a process that will take a year.
Based on a deal reached with the government the week before, the families agreed to leave of their own volition. Most families packed up their belongings in advance of the arrival of Defense Ministry workers, who moved their boxes and furniture.
In some cases they themselves also lugged cartons. Two small boys carried out a bird cage balanced on top of another cage containing a rabbit.
As a protest move, the Dikstein family refused to pack. Except for a few personal belongings, they left everything as it had been in their apartment.
Oriya did not stop the ministry workers from packing, but did not assist them either.
Dikstein spent the night before studying for an exam for his marketing course at the Ariel University Center. That morning, he left for school and returned only at noon, when the apartment was almost empty.
“Our ancestors dreamed for years of building a home in the Land of Israel,” Dikstein said. Like most of the outpost residents, he wore a black T-shirt that said, “Ulpana neighborhood.
We will return.”
“We are people of faith,” he said.
In spite of the intense pain at their forced eviction, Dikstein said that he and his neighbors had decided not to violently resist. Instead, they had chosen to relocate and continue to build the Land of Israel.
He took issue with the court’s description of their homes as structures built without permits on private Palestinian property.
“This is not stolen or occupied property,” he said.
His neighbor Harel Cohen, who lives in one of the nine apartment buildings in Ulpana that will remain – because they were not part of Yesh Din’s 2008 court petition – also spoke.
He noted that the injustice of the situation was particularly acute in Dikstein’s case.
The terrorist who killed Dikstein’s parents and brother was released from jail this fall as part of the deal to free captive soldier Gilad Schalit from the hands of Hamas in Gaza. But Dikstein is forced to leave his home.
“It is a terrible stain on our nation and our government. And we have to do soul searching, that Didi has to take his parents’ photograph off the wall in his home that the government built,” Cohen said.
American immigrant Alex Traiman, who lived in one of the Ulpana homes that had to be evacuated, noted that their homes were built meters from the spot where Jacob dreamed of angels ascending and descending a ladder.
“This is not a hill. This is not an outpost,” he said.
It is the place where God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, Traiman said.
God “promised Jacob that the land that he sat on would be his and his descendants,” he explained.
“Jacob woke up and he called this place Beit El,” said Traiman.