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Behind and Around Jerusalem

 

city of davidOur first stop will be Hass Promenade. Looking northward toward the Old City, we start the day understanding the complexities of Israel’s capital city-Jerusalem.  Why did King David, originally from Hebron, choose to create the Kingdom’s capital here?

In the aftermath of the June 1967 Six Day War the State of Israel enlarged the capital city of Jerusalem, annexing over 15 Arab villages. One of these villages, Jabal Muchaber, home to about 20,000 people, is situated directly to the east of the Jewish neighborhood of East Talpiot.  Symbolically, the United Nations Treaty Supervision Organization (UNTSO) and the striking “Tolerance Monument” sculpture separate the Arab and Jewish Neighborhoods.

ramat rachelNext we drive to Kibbutz Ramat Rachel. This beautiful communal village was surrounded on three sides by Egyptian and Jordanian military forces during the 1948 War of Independence.  Eighty brave members of this Kibbutz withstood a ten day assault, thus ensuring the safety of the 100,000 residents of Jerusalem only a few miles away.  From the southern boundary of the Kibbutz we will peak into neighboring Bethlehem , located in the Palestinian Authority, and also understand the security considerations behind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to build Jerusalem’s newest neighborhood, Har Homa, in the last available patch of land in southeast Jerusalem.

herodium herodionThe 1993 Oslo Accords divided Judea and Samaria into Areas A, B, and C.  From Herodium  , the resting place of Herod the Great in the heart of the Judean desert, we will see firsthand examples of all three different areas, and understand some of the administrative and security challenges confronted on a daily basis.

Beneath Herdium we will visit modern Tekoa, The largest Jewish community in the Eastern Etzion bloc. Tekoa was founded 40 years ago and today has 3,000 residents.  Religious and secular, native and immigrant, left and right, Tekoa is definitely considered one of the most unique settlements, and boasts a relatively large music and arts scene. For a special lunch experience we will go to Sde Bar Dairy Farm. This goat farm offers a variety of both soft and hard cheeses from gats raised on the premises.  The clean and crisp desert air serves a as a perfect backdrop for a midday lunch break.

After lunch we will advnace to the The Lone Oak, a remnant of “Gush Ezion”.  The Etzion bloc (“Gush Ezion”) was originally settled in the 1927 as an agricultural village half way between Jerusalem and Hebron, two of the four Holy Cities in the land of Israel.  Twenty one years later, in May 1948, one day before David Ben Gurion declared the State of Israel, the Etzion bloc was overrun, with over 100 fighters massacred after they had already surrendered.

Nearby we will visit the Monument for the three boys, three high school students who were kidnapped in 2014 and murdered by Palestinian  terrorists as they were making their way home from school.  Only a few hundred meters from the location of the 1948 massacre. The kidnapping rocked Israel, and a massive manhunt was launched in order to find the boys.  Seventeen days later, their bodies were discovered in a nearby Palestinian village.

On our to the last stop of the day we will drive by Husan, a large Palestinian village located only a few miles outside of Jerusalem.  As we drive by the village we will witness some of the extensive security measures that the IDF has implemented in order to do its best to provide safety in the area.

This ultra orthodox (Haredi) enclave  of Betar Ilit will be our last stop. Betar Ilit is the largest city in Judea and Samaria, with a population of 50,000 people.  Comprising all streams of ultra orthodox Jewry, Betar Ilit is one of several cities built solely for Israel’s increasing populous ultra orthodox community.