Vanguard of Young Settlers Arrives at Etzion for Settlement

An advance party of young settlers moved this morning into the former Jordanian Arab Legion camp on the site of Kfar Etzion and formally reestablished the Jewish settlement there which the Jordanians destroyed in 1948. The new settlement stands on the site of the four settlements of the Etzion bloc in the Hebron hills, between Hebron and Bethlehem, on land owned by the Jewish National Fund.

The new settlement is under auspices of Nahal, the paramilitary youth pioneer organization. The new settlers have been drawn mainly from the B’nai Akiba youth movement of the Mizrachi, the religious Zionist group. Most of them are the children of the original Etzion settlers. About 200 residents of the settlements were slaughtered in 1948 after the Arab Legion captured the settlements and left their defenseless residents to the mercy of Arab gangs despite promises that they would be treated as prisoners of war.

Before setting out, the young men visited the graves of their parents. On arrival at Etzion, many of the settlers recited the Kaddish, memorial prayer for their parents. Torah scrolls were brought into one of the buildings which was consecrated as a temporary synagogue and Mezzuzahs were affixed to doorposts to mark buildings of Jewish occupancy. Among those taking part in that ceremony were Zerah Warhaftig, Minister of Religions; Raanan Weitz, head of the Jewish Agency’s settlement department; M. Hazani, a National Religious Party deputy in Parliament; and Abraham Hartzfeld, a veteran leader of the Jewish settlement movement in pre-state Palestine.

As resettlement proceeded, official spokesmen reiterated that establishment of Nahal outposts in the territories occupied by Israel was for security reasons and did not prejudice a future political settlement. The popular reaction, however, was that the return to Etzion was a decisive act comparable to the reunification of Jerusalem.

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