Tovah Lazaroff
The Jerusalem Post
February 1, 2010 - 1:00am

The IDF has agreed to erect a watchtower on a strategic Gush Etzion hilltop called Shdema, thereby handing a partial victory to settlers who have campaigned for two years to ensure that it remains under Israeli control.

Nadia Matar of Women in Green, who has organized weekly Friday protest events at the site for the last two years, said that an IDF commander told of them of the move late last week.

On Sunday security sources told The Jerusalem Post that a watchtower would be placed there to increase area security.

At one time the army had a base on the hilltop, but it was abandoned in 2006, before the construction of the road that links Har Homa with the Tekoa and Nokdim settlements.

Under the Kadima government the IDF spoke of the possibility that a portion of the small hilltop would be ceded to the Palestinian Authority so that it could construct a hospital. The area is immediately adjacent to the Palestinian city of Beit Sahour, which claims that the hill falls within its municipal jurisdiction.

Settlers have argued that the hill has strategic value and a Jewish and or IDF presence there would prevent Palestinian terrorists from using it to shoot at passing motorists. They would also like to see the site approved for Jewish settlement.

“We feel that it is a step forward in the right direction,” said Matar, who added that she wanted to thank the thousands of people who had worked on behalf of Shdema as well as the Knesset caucus.

Separately on Sunday, settlers rebuilt a synagogue that security forces destroyed last week at the unauthorized outpost of Givat Menachem next to the Nahliel settlement.


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