During the recent war with Gaza, rockets that were landing all over Israel’s central coastal region filled most of the international headlines. What was lost in the surge of daily news from Israel, however, was what was happening in Judea and Samaria. While Hamas called for its militants to annihilate Israel by attacking from the Gaza Strip, Fatah (who controls the Palestinian Authority) called for “days of rage” in the West Bank (falsely so-called).
We were affected on a near-daily basis by those calls for rage.
Even before the first rockets were fired on May 10th, 2021, while Israel was celebrating Jerusalem Day, Palestinians set fire to our Greening Israel forestry project in Samaria. A few hours later, 2,500 trees were destroyed. Over the course of the next week, residents of Samaria experienced protests, riots, and fires on a near-daily basis. Roads were blockaded, burning tires were everywhere, and it being the beginning of the dry season, fires burned hotly all over the mountains of Israel. None of the fires however, caused nearly as much damage as the first one that burned nearly our entire forestry project.
With the support of hundreds of people all over the world, TV Visjon Norway, and Christian volunteers, we were blessed to plant 3,000 trees on the mountains of Samaria in 2020. In partnership with a local Jewish community, we cleared the rocks, thorns, and brush from the area. We cut roads, hauled mulch (much of it by hand), built wire cages, and carefully planted saplings. Each tree was watered, every spot mulched. We wanted this to be the best forest in Israel.
As the saplings took root, we checked on them nearly every day. We made sure the soil was moist. We watched to make sure the trees were taking root. Then, tragedy struck.
In December of 2020, just after we had placed guard dogs at the tree site, Palestinians from a local community snuck in by night. Because the dogs were not yet finished with their training, they did not resist. The Palestinians uprooted 200 trees and stole the dogs. Yet we continued planting.
Then, just when violence all over Israel was erupting in the latest Gaza war, and right at the beginning of the dry season, Palestinian arsonists struck again. This time, they set fire to the edge of the forest. With the wind blowing just the right direction, the fire soon took off, and the entire forest was quickly ablaze. By the time the local security and fire department were alerted, nothing could stop the fire. We could only keep it from spreading to a nearby community and from crossing roads.
When the last flames were out, and the dry ground cooled, we found 2,500 trees had been completely destroyed.
There was a terrorist attack here in Samaria recently. A yeshiva student was killed when a Palestinian terrorist opened fire at a bus stop. The Jewish people’s response? A nearby settlement was formed. Within four days, 25 Jewish families were settled, determined not to let those who hate them stop them from living and thriving in the land of Israel.
We have decided to take a similar approach to the agricultural terrorism that we are facing. With your help, we will replant. Our goal is to replant the 2,500 trees that were burned before the seventh-year Shmittah begins on September 6th, less than four months from now.
Will you help us? It costs $25 to plant a tree. Whether you can donate one tree or 1,000 trees, you can be a part of the restoration of the land of Israel.
We are taking extra precautions to make sure that this agricultural terrorism does not happen again. We are installing security cameras and using a planting method that incorporates more water and does not use mulch. Best of all, since the area has been burnt once, that means it will not burn well again for a long time.
We cannot let the haters of Israel win the war for the land. We must be part of the vision of the prophets by planting the roots of trees deep in the soil of the mountains of Israel.
Will you be a part of our team?