IDF approves new Jewish community in Judea

“This is an enormous gift for the residents of Gush Etzion,” said Regional Council head Shlomo Ne’eman.

The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday gave its approval for the establishment of a new Jewish community in Judea, Mishmar Yehuda, located near Kedar in northeastern Gush Etzion.

OC IDF Central Command Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox signed the paperwork setting the boundaries of the town on Tuesday night.

“This is an enormous gift for the residents of Gush Etzion,” said Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shlomo Ne’eman, who also heads the Yesha Council, the umbrella group for Judea and Samaria localities.

“It is our best answer to terrorism and to those who want to deprive us of our ancestral land. This is our answer to extremists who want to remove us from the place where our forefathers tread. This is also our answer to the nations of the world,” said Ne’eman.

View of the Jewish settlement of Efrat, in Gush Etzion, West Bank, on January 6, 2020. Photo by Hadas Parush//Flash90

“We will continue onwards and strengthen Gush Etzion with more residents, more schools, more roads and more kindergartens. Together we will triumph,” added the Yesha Council head.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who is also a minister in the Defense Ministry in charge of civilian affairs in Judea and Samaria, praised Fox’s decision.

“We will continue the momentum of settlement throughout the country; congratulations to Gush Etzion, congratulations to the settlement and congratulations to the State of Israel,” Smotrich said in a statement.

The Jewish population in Judea and Samaria grew by almost 15,000 people last year, according to a report released earlier this month.

As of Jan. 1, 517,407 Jews lived in the area, which Israel liberated during the 1967 Six-Day War, up from 502,991 on the same date in 2023. Last year’s growth amounts to a 2.87% increase.

The Jewish population in Judea and Samaria has grown 15.11% since 2019, when 449,508 Jews lived in the area, according to the document. The report projects the Jewish population in the area to reach 613,554 by 2030; 706,233 by 2035; and 1,020,506 by 2047.

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