The Shomron AKA Samaria Region
I like to tell stories. A journey to the Shomron region, Israel, is a story to tell. It is also a witness to how the Israelis – the Jews, took G-D’s promise to their Forefathers most seriously; they are, once again, making the land the land of ‘Milk and Honey.’
I once saw a movie in which the actor claims that life is a narrator. You never know what comes your way and when you fall or your knee buckles, you get up and you stay strong and you move on to make life even greater. That is what the Israelis do in the Shomron, AKA Samaria.
Samaria’s true name is the biblical Hebrew name Shomron, a land that has rich biblical history. Shomron is the historical and biblical name that was used for the central region of the ancient land and kingdom of Israel, bordering to the north with the Galilee and with Judea to the south. One can easily say that the Mediterranean Sea is the Shomron’s limit to the west and the Jordan River to the east. On a clear day, from the 800 meters (2,625 feet) ‘Three Seas Vista’ point, indeed one can see the Mediterranean Sea, the Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee (Kineret), the Hermon Mountain and even the capital city of Jordan, Aman.
The Shomron territory largely corresponds with the biblical land allotment to the Israelite Tribe Ephraim and the western half of the Israelite Tribe Menashe.
After the death of King Solomon, his large empire’s land was split into the Kingdom of Judea, to the south, and the Kingdom Israel, to the north.
Explaining the Name
According to the Bible, the Hebrew name “Shomron” is derived from the word Shomer, meaning a guard. A high point is a guard point and as such is the mountains of the Shomron.
The Israeli King Omri (ruled 880s-870s BCE) purchased the mountain, named Shomron, on which he built his new capital city (Book Kings 1-16:24).
It is likely that the name Shomron began being used for the entire kingdom not long after the town of Shomron had become the capital of the Kingdom of Israel.
The land had gone through many conquests, by foreign armies and nations. The first documented event, after Sargon II of Assyria conquered the Shomron, he turned the Israelites’ kingdom into the Assyrian province of Samerina.
Moving Forward After the 1967 Six Day War
Fact: Jordan illegally occupied the Shomron, it named “West Bank” for 19 years. Israel warned Jordan not to get involved in the upcoming war that broke in June 1967 but it did not listen to the warning and joined in the war with its guns. Subsequently, the Arab nations that attacked Israel – Egypt, Syria and Jordan – lost the war and the modern state of Israel regained its ancient land of Shomron and Yehuda, that was occupied by foreign regimes.
Haggling for lasting peace, which the Israelis so much wanted and the Arabs so much did not want, mistaken agreements were signed between the parties. That left the Israelis hoping for peace while the Arabs, hoping to get the land back, are still using any means possible to get it.
Subsequent to those negotiations, Israel agreed to the terms “two state solution” and “peace process,” and agreed to divide the land into Area ‘A’, Area ‘B’ under the name “Palestinian Authority” (PA) and Area ‘C’. Israel gave the [terrorist] Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), then headed by the arch terrorist Yasser Arafat, control of Area ‘A’, with full civil and security control; Area ‘B’, is under the PLO-PA civil control with joint Israeli-Palestinian security control, and Area ‘C’ is where Jewish magic of life is applied.
Area ‘C’, like Areas ‘A’ and ‘B’, is the result of signing the 1993 Oslo Accords. The area ‘C’ constitutes of about 61 percent of the entire land of what was called by Jordan, for 19 years, “West Bank” territory. It is now back to its ancient and rightful name, Yehuda and Shomron (Judea & Samaria).
The Jewish population in Area ‘C’ is administered by the Judea and Samaria Administration, not yet a full member of the sovereign State of Israel.
I took a one day mesmerizing tour of the Shomron, guided by Boaz Haetzni, of the Shomron Regional Council. What I discovered was exciting, breathtaking and infuriating all at once.
Here I break the day-long tour into sub-parts in order to bring the picture full circle and make it clear to the reader as to what the Shomron is all about. But before I do so, I must admit that my view of the entire situation is as follows:
Since its establishment in 1948, the Arabs lost each and every war and military operation they aggressively launched against the state of Israel. According to the International law of war, the war’s winning party is to keep the territory it gained [“conquered”] and if so choosing, do a transfer of the hostile population (population transfer) from those lands it gained. In this case, Israel regained (gained back what belonged to her anyway) territory that was in fact its land legally, according to international law and the United Nations resolution in place. Jordan had occupied it illegally for 19 years, with impunity. From that illegally occupied land, the Jordanian legionnaires constantly fired at Israeli civilians. Therefore, there was no obligation here but to keep all the land as Israel’s land without all the haggling and marginalization.
In its foolishness Israel did not follow those legal steps. Subsequently, Israel ended up with a hostile, terror keen population. There was no end in sight to hostility, no matter what agreements were drafted and signed. It was all an Arab ruse.
Our Journey Begins Here
On a rather cold and windy day, when at times I thought the wind might pick me up and I would fly over this partially green and storytelling land, Boaz and I took a long day tour of Area ‘C.’ We explored what was done, what is at hand and what could be the future of the Shomron, good and bad.
Beginning of Rebuilding the Land of Israel in the Shomron
I first noticed that a large percentage of the mountainous land is lacking natural flora. I wondered why, as the land is fertile and water is in not in short supply.
Boaz explained that the natural flora, the indigenous trees and Savannah bush that grew in the area vanished over the centuries. That was because the many conquerors that passed through the land and had put foot there, for whatever time period, did not care about the land. They used the trees for energy and construction, leaving much of the land barren.
As to how the rebuilding of this precious historical land began, I received this information from Benny Ktzover, almost at the end of this journey. It fits well to mention it here before I go into telling all about this breathtaking trip in the Shomron.
Benny Katzover, resident of Elon Moreh at Mount Kabir in the Shomron-Samaria, was the head of the Samaria Buildup Committee. In an interview with Al-Monitor, in reply to the question, “And you, the old leadership, are giving up [on building the land]?” Katzover said: “Not at all.”
That is the spirit of the Shomron residents, now counting approximately 480,000.
Building and settling the Shomron began at the end of the 70s. At that time there was a movement to arrange and to appropriate the regained land. They wanted to choose the type of communities that would be built there, whether a city, a village or a Kibbutz, the common type of communities one finds all over Israel.
What was decided upon was to build urban communities, the size of a town and up to a large city, and small communities, somewhat a hybrid of a town and a kibbutz. In such a community, the residents privately earn their living on a job, while education and community activities are the mutual responsibility of all residents.
Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon copied this type of communities in his policy to settle the Galil [Galilee] with Jewish residents.
Elom Moreh was the first such Jewish Community.
Peduel – the Terrace of the Country
First stop on this journey was Peduel, a community of some 2000 people. We climbed to a vista point, at 400 meters (1,313 feet) above sea level from which I could see clearly where 70% of the entire state of Israel population live. The entire Mediterranean shore was at the range of my eye sight, as if this entire densely populated sea shore was in the palm of my hand.
Boaz explained to me Israel’s strategy: along the ceasefire line, called the “Green Line,” where there are Arab villages, behind that line Israel built a layer of Israeli-Jewish presence of Jewish communities, this in order to disconnect any possibility of contiguous and connective continuity with and to Ramallah, the capital of the Palestinian Authority (PA).
The location of the Jewish community was made according to mostly biblical Hebrew names and are spread along high point strategic lines.
Israel recognized that the Arabs who arrived and settled in the region did not build on high points rather low, near the small valleys where they farmed, that are spread all over the Shomron region.
Only due to reality of ground constraints, though to their advantage, Israelis are building their communities on high peaks.
From the Peduel’s vista one can see all of Israel’s war scenes, even envision the battle with the Philistines in which the Israelites lost 30,000 fighters (Hitler murdered that many Jews in 2-3 days of his “Final Solution” systematic execution of Jews machine), over 3000 years ago when the Israelites went down to the valley to fight their arch enemy, rather than let the enemy come up to fight them on the mountain terrain.
As the biblical story goes, the Israeli messenger ran 42 kilometers – the length of the Greek Marathon messenger run – to inform the then High Priest, Eli, that his two sons were killed in battle, the Holy Arak, with the Ten Commandments in it, fell into the hands of the Philistines and the Israelites lost the war with heavy casualties. Unlike the Greek story in which the messenger died at the end of his run and after he managed to give the devastating news, the Israeli runner did not die at the end of his run but the High Priest, Eli, could not take the bad news and he fell and died. (Samuel 1 4:1-10)
The Holy Ark did not bring any good luck to the Philistines. Wherever it was stationed they experienced destruction and disasters and at the end they had enough and thus returned the Ark to the Israelites.
Completing the introduction to Shomron, the reader must keep in mind that no good comes to anyone who holds to G-D’s promised land to his People. In the 19 years of Jordanian illegal occupation of the West Bank there was nothing there but poverty and deprivation. Like it or not, that’s the way it was, until the Israelis appeared back on the scene.
End of chapter one.