Today in 1971: First 50 families move into Kiryat Arba settlement
19 September 2017
On the eve of Passover 1968, less than a year after Israel occupied the West Bank, a group of Israeli civilians led by settler leader Rabbi Moshe Levinger, rented rooms in the Park Hotel for 48 hours in Hebron – and refused to leave. Although the act violated Israeli government policy at the time, they were not forced to leave and in fact the army began providing them with weapons. Cabinet ministers, among them Yigal Alon, visited the new settlement in a show of support. In March 1970, the Knesset formally approved the establishment of the settlement Kiryat Arba, and on this day, the first fifty families — including Levinger and his followers from the Park Hotel — officially moved in. Kiryat Arba was the first settlement conceived of as a city, as opposed to the relatively small agricultural settlements that had emerged up until then. It’s founding also set the precedent for the creation of facts on the ground that would become the model for the expansion of the settlement enterprise: Israelis set up a squat, the Israeli government is passively and actively complacent, and eventually the government either retroactively authorizes it or provides another concession to the settler movement. Today Kiryat Arba has a population of over 7,000 Israelis and is home to Kahane Park, named after American-Israeli militant nationalist Meir Kahane, whose Kach party was outlawed, and the grave of Baruch Goldstein, who murdered 29 Palestinians in the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron on February 25, 1994.
Breaking the Silence, founded in March 2004 by a group of soldiers who did their service in Hebron and wanted to expose the Israeli public to how the IDF operates in the Occupied Territories, provides regular tours in the Kiryat Arba area. To date it has collected over 1,000 testimonies from soldiers who have served in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza since 2000.
Learn the history of the occupation so that we can overcome it, because #50isEnough.
The occupation has gone on for 50 years. It’s a problem that must be addressed for Israel’s sake and for the Palestinians. Over 5 decades and in every month of the year, Israelis, Palestinians, Americans and others have made their mark on reality. Telling these stories is part of how our movement grows stronger. This series marks the watershed moments we all need to know about.