[Image Source: Yoninah]
Beitar Illit is located approximately 25 kilometers south of Jerusalem. Beitar Illit, (lit. Upper Beitar) is named after the ancient Jewish city of Beitar. During the period of the second temple Beitar was was at the center of the uprising against the Roman rule over the land of Israel. The leader of the Jewish rebels at that time was Shimon Bar Kochba, who received full support from the holy Sage Rabbi Akiva. Initially, Bar Kochba and his fellow rebels managed to successfully beat the Romans on several fronts; however the bitter end of the uprising was brought on by the Roman army which received reinforcement from Rome, and succeeded in overpowering the Jewish strongholds one after the other. The last and most important Jewish stronghold which stood till the very end was Beitar. Beitar is situated at the foot of the Baal Hazor Mountain, one of the highest mountains in Judea and Samaria.
Today, the community of Beitar Illit is comprised mainly of ultra-orthodox families.
Beitar Illit has been awarded the Israel Ministry of Interior’s gold prize, recognizing “responsible management and sustainable urban planning”, for eight years running. In 2002, it received the Ministry of Interior’s prize for water conservation in public gardens, urban public institutions, and urban water administration. The city is well known for its landscaping and general cleanliness. There are 94 parks and hundreds of playgrounds in the city. From 2000 to 2013, Beitar Illit earned five out of five stars in the Council for a Beautiful Israel’s annual “Beautiful Town in a Beautiful Israel” contest, which recognizes a city’s investment in environment, aesthetics, and maintenance of appearance and cleanliness. In 2005 the city won the Council for a Beautiful Israel’s “Beauty Flag”, which is awarded every five years.
Beitar Illit is is located within the jurisdiction of the Gush Etzion Regional Council. In 2015 it had a population of 49,343, making it one of the larger communities in Judea and Samaria. The city is located in the portion of Israel that was designated for the tribe of Judah.