West Bank council builds outpost for terror victim

‘There needs to be a bitter cry to prevent it from happening again,’ says council head; PM asked to designate site legal settlement.

Evyatar outpost 370 (photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
Evyatar outpost 370
(photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
The Samaria Regional Council on Wednesday built a new outpost in memory of terror victim Evyatar Borovsky, 31, who was stabbed to death the day before by a Palestinian at the Tapuah Junction.
“His blood should not be spilled in vain,” council head Gershon Mesika said, as he sat behind a desk under a large white tent that he had set up on a hilltop overlooking the junction.
From the top of the 100-dunam site, it is possible to clearly see both of the two major arteries that cut through the West Bank: Route 60 and a road that leads to the Jordan Valley. Until recently, an IDF military base sat on the hilltop.
A partially paved narrow road with deep potholes leads up to the site, which has two sandy clearings.
A number of small four-door dusty cars made their way up the road, and tied to their rooftops were stacks of wooden sawdust planks for the construction of temporary structures. In the parking lot a group of teenage boys in T-shirts and jeans organized the planks for building.
A truck also brought up a number of orange porta-potties and placed them at the end of the parking lot.
As of Wednesday afternoon, aside from Mesika’s tent office, a flimsy one-room wooden structure had been built for a meeting room.
Mesika said he planned to sit there throughout the seven-day mourning period for Borovsky. After that, he said, the site would be manned until such time as families can be brought in.
He has called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to authorize the site as a legal settlement, as the appropriate response to terrorism in Judea and Samaria.
He added that the property’s status was that of survey land, and that it did not belong to Palestinian landowners. As such, he said, it could be reclassified as state land.
His call comes amidst a renewed push by the United States to rekindle direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, which have been largely frozen since December 2008. The Palestinians have insisted that Israel cease West Bank settlement activity as a precondition to such talks.
Although Israel has refused to cede to this request, it has in the past promised the international community it will not build new settlements. However, Netanyahu has looked to authorize outposts constructed on state land.
But Mesika said a new settlement must follow Borovsky’s death.
“The Zionist response is to deepen Jewish roots in the land,” Mesika said as he looked at a small aerial map of the site on his desk.
He explained that he had known Borovsky, a father of five, who worked as an actor and lived in the Yitzhar settlement.
Borovsky participated in outdoor theater performances that brought biblical times to life and at events organized by the council, Mesika said.
But he cautioned that people had been distracted by the personal tragedy of Borovsky’s loss, when there were nationalist issues at stake.
It is important to be blunt about what happened on Tuesday morning, he said. “A Jew was killed just because he was a Jew.”
“To my sorrow, we did not hear politicians yelling about this situation,” Mesika continued.
“There needs to be a bitter cry to prevent it from happening again.”
Mesika said he blamed Borovsky’s death on the government’s gestures to the Palestinians, including the removal of roadblocks and checkpoints to improve movement and access for the Palestinians.
The terrorist who killed Borovsky, Mesika said, “was able to travel from Tulkarm to the Tapuah Junction without anyone stopping or checking him.”
Many Palestinians want to live in peace with Israelis, said Mesika, who explained that in the Barkan Industrial Park under his council’s auspices, half of the 6,000 workers are Palestinians.
He charged that it was the Palestinian Authority that helped incite terrorism, through its educational materials and its homage to terrorists, including the support payments it makes to families of prisoners in Israeli jails.
He dismissed, however, the violent response by settlers and right-wing extremists to Borovsky’s death. In the hours that followed it, they set fire to Palestinian fields and threw stones at Palestinians, including at a bus with Palestinian children, lightly injuring two.
Mesika said the violence was problematic and unfortunate, but that it was an immediate emotional reaction to a situation that made one’s blood boil.
The fact that calm has been restored, he said, is evidence that the council takes such incidents seriously and discourages them.
Judea and Samaria police said Wednesday that of four settlers arrested during clashes at Tapuah Junction on Tuesday, one was released after posting NIS 1,500 bond, while the other three had their remands extended by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court until Friday.
The four were arrested for an incident in which a Palestinian bus carrying school kids was stoned. They are suspected of endangering the lives of commuters and disturbing the peace.
Ben Hartman contributed to this report.