Sunset over Havat Gilad [Photo Credit: Boaz Haetzni]

Havat Gilad is a community located approximately 15 kilometers southwest of Shechem (Nablus) in Samaria. The community was built on land that was purchased and privately owned by Moshe Zar, a renowned religious Zionist. Zar was known for purchasing large amounts of land in Judea and Samaria, for the purpose of building new Jewish communities there. The community of Havat Gilad was established in 2002 by Itai Zar, the youngest son of Moshe, in memory of Gilad Zar, Itai’s brother and Moshe’s son – who was shot by an Arab terrorist in 2001 as he was driving near the site of the future community. The Arab terrorist organization, Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades which is the military wing of Fatah, claimed responsibility for the shooting attack.

Like his father, Gilad was a passionate religious Zionist. Zar rose to the rank of Major in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The younger Zar was also a volunteer ambulance driver in Samaria. Gilad Zar’s son went on to become one of the creators of the community of Itamar, also in Samaria. In addition to the community of Havat Gilad, ‘Tzir Gilad’ – a bypass road which connects the communities of Kedumim and Yitzhar, and the Hadar Gilad neighborhood in the city of Rechavia is named after him.

Havat Gilad was also the home of Rabbi Raziel Revach, age 35, who was killed in a drive-by shooting attack on Highway 60, near his home in the community of Havat Gilad. May his name be a source of blessing. This past Sunday, the Israeli government unanimously decided to formally recognize the community of Havat Gilad. Both politicians, such as Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan and residents of Samaria called on the Israeli government to authorize Havat Gilad in the aftermath of the January 9 terrorist attack. Ahead of the official announcement of the cabinet meeting, in which it was decided that the Israeli government would recognize the community, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Whoever thinks that through the reprehensible murder of a resident of Havat Gilad, a father of six, that he can break our spirit and weaken us, is making a bitter mistake”.

Since the decision to grant legal status to the community was just granted, Havat Gilad does not yet have its own municipality. Approximately 42 families currently live in the community. Havat Gilad is located in the portion of Israel that was designated for the tribe of Menashe.