The Battle to Prevent Another Arab Hospital in Gush Etzion

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The following report is furnished by Nadia Matar, of the Women in Green organization, pertaining to ongoing efforts to save the Gush Etzion area Shdemah Camp which is an abandoned IDF camp in the Gush. It pertains the 26 Av visit to the area by members of Knesset.

Today, 26th of Av 5678, 27/8/08, a tour of the abandoned IDF camp was made by the Knesset Security & Foreign Affairs Subcommittee headed by Knesset member (Kadima) Otniel Schneller.

Kol Hakavod to the committee members Otniel Schneller, Tzvi Hendel (National Union), Ran Cohen (Meretz), Rabbi Menachem Porush (UTJ), Rabbi Nissim Ze’ev (Shas), Ze’ev Elkin (Kadima) and Yuli Edelstein (Likud) who arrived at the camp to study the facts as a result of the Arab request to build a hospital in the area of the camp.

The Knesset members showed great interest in the subject, asking many questions, such as the influence building this hospital would have on the safety of the people using the road beneath the camp, the impact on the lives of the people living in Har Choma and the possible alternative locations for building the hospital in the area.

A representative of the IDF Civil Administration spoke, advising the Knesset members to agree to the Arab demand, even though the area is under Israeli sovereignty.

We were appalled to find out that the representative of the Civil Administration knew no details of alternative locations in the area, confirming that there were no discussions about the subject. We found out that the Civil Administration accepted the PA (Palestinian Authority) requests with no protest or discussion. Again it was proven that the civil administration is a tool of the PA instead of fulfilling its duty as a representative of the Israeli government.

A historic overview was given by the historian Arik Yitzchaki, emphasizing the strategic importance of the camp, commanding the Za’atra Road. This is proven by the fact that the place was an army base early on, beginning with the Chasmonean fort of Jonathan up to the Jordanian army base and IDF camps.

A senior resident of Tekoa, Mrs. Ina Viniarsky, spoke about the tens of terrorist attacks from the east of Beit Sachur on the Jewish transportation in the area and on soldiers in the Shdemah Camp.

The deputy mayor of Gush Etzion, Yair Wolf, emphasized the importance of the road for the comfort of the Gush Etzion residents, as it is an alternative to the Route 60, and will help develop tourism in the Herodion area.

Representative of Har Choma, Avraham Azulai, commented on the importance of the road for the residents of the neighborhood, and the anxiety of the Har Choma community from a hostile Arab neighborhood two minutes drive away from their homes.

Land inspector Chananya Nachliel brought a map, showing a few alternative places for the new hospital. The map was given to the committee members.

It is important to mention that Beit Sachur only has about 25,000 residents. The nearby city Beit Lechem has a governmental hospital and the nearby Beit Jala has a birthing clinic that is placed on a large area, ready for expansion.

Additionally, we all should remember that the Israeli government will not authorize the building of a hospital in Ashdod, a city with at least 250,000 citizens (Ten times more than Beit-Sachur!).

The additional subject raised was the activities of the radical anarchist organizations who are leading the occupation attempt of camp Shdemah in the guise of humanitarian activity. The committee members were shown the park built at the edge of the Shdemah camp in the C area, and the representative of the civil administration was forced to admit that these buildings were built illegally with no licenses or permits and a demolition order was put out on them.

The members of the committee concluded by saying that the anarchist subject would be discussed thoroughly by another sub-committee. The representatives of the civil administration declared that in any case the top part of the camp will stay in Israeli control for cases of an emergency.

The Committee for a Jewish Shdemah declares that it will continue its struggle to keep Shdemah in Jewish hands because handing the place to the Arabs will: Stop the development of the Har Choma neighborhood.

Create a serious threat to the safety of Jewish transportation on the Gush-Etzion-Jerusalem road.

Sever the continuous link between the east of Gush-Etzion and Jerusalem.

Bring this area under the control of anarchists and radical-left organizations and in the future control of all Judea and Samaria.

The Committee for a Jewish Shdemah (050-524-6770 or 02-996-1292 or 050-550-0834)

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)