Otniel, as seen from a birds-eye view.
The community of Otniel is located in the southern Hebron Hills, about half an hour drive northeast of Beer Sheva and 45 minutes southwest of Jerusalem. Otniel is named after Biblical Jewish leader, Otniel Ben Knaz (mentioned in the books of Joshua and Judges). Ben Knaz was a Jewish warrior, who led the Jewish people’s victory over the armies of Cushan-Rishathaim, the king of Aram. Otniel Ben Knaz was buried in Hebron.
The close-knit community of 160 families has its own elementary and middle school, playgrounds for toddlers and older children, a mikveh (Jewish ritual bathhouse), frequent community events, a social club for teenagers and for adults, synagogues and more. Otniel is also home to Knesset Member Yehuda Glick (from the right-wing Likud party), who is particularly well known for his advocacy on behalf of sovereignty for Judea and Samaria and for Jewish prayer rights on the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem. On 29 October 2014, Glick was shot by an Arab terrorist who attempted to assassinate him. Glick later said, that before firing at him, the terrorist said, “I’m very sorry, but you’re an enemy of Al-Aqsa, I have to.”
The religious community of Otniel also boasts Yeshivat Otniel, one of the largest hesder yeshivot (pre-military seminaries for advanced Torah study for men) in Israel. The yeshiva is home to roughly 350 students.
The community of Otniel falls under the jurisdiction of Har Hebron Regional Council. In 2016 it had a population of 976. The community is located in the portion of Israel that was designated for the tribe of Yehudah (Judah).