Let the Lights Shine in Yehudah and Shomron

An Israeli solider searches a Palestinian car at a checkpoint near Shechem on Wednesday. (REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)

Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, the Rav of Eilon Moreh in the Shomron, put it best. “So much blessing filled you,” he said, addressing Rabbi Raziel Shevach, Hy”d, who died last week al kiddush Hashem, in his eulogy. “So much light. And so much darkness filled those sons of darkness who came to extinguish the light. This time, they succeeded in extinguishing a great light.”

By all accounts, Rabbi Shevach was indeed a great light. At 35, he was a talmid chacham who’d received three different certificates of semichah from Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef. He was a certified mohel who performed hundreds of circumcisions, purely for the sake of the mitzvah. He was an optimist who always had a smile on his face and a good word to help lift the spirits of those who were going through difficulties.

And he was a master at kiruv, who could connect with everyone, religious and secular alike.

This bright light was extinguished last week by the sons of darkness. Rabbi Shevach, who saved lives as a volunteer medic for Magen David Adom, was vanquished by those who worship death, who know they can expect honor and riches by killing Jews.

As U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman noted immediately after the shooting, “Hamas praises the killers, and PA laws will provide them financial rewards. Look no further [as] to why there is no peace.”

Peace isn’t in the cards now. Judging by PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ delusional tirade on Sunday night, it never has been. A person who curses U.S. President Donald Trump and blames the Americans and Europeans “for bringing the Jews here from Europe in order to protect Europe’s interests in the region” will never recognize a Jewish state in the Land of Israel, no matter how tiny it may be.

But while the government of Israel can’t be held accountable for the lack of peace, or for the blind hatred that goes back thousands of years, it can, and must, be held accountable for not doing enough to protect lights like Rabbi Shevach.

For starters, it must improve security on the roads of Yehudah and Shomron. As Hamodia’s defense correspondent A. Pe’er notes this week, bypass roads were built at the start of the Oslo process in the 1990s to provide safe passage for Jews around towns that were being handed over to the Palestinians. It was only later, under Ehud Barak, that they were foolishly made available to the Palestinians, as well.

The result is that not only are Jews vulnerable to drive-by shootings, but also to reckless Palestinian drivers who speed and overtake cars in an irresponsible fashion, causing fatal accidents.

To its credit, the government has just allocated hundreds of millions of shekels for new roads in Yehudah and Shomron, roads that are well lit and have cell phone reception. However, these roads will also be made available to Palestinians. If there is no way to turn back the clock and bar Palestinians, then at the very least, security must be increased on the roads, in the form of more cameras, more IDF patrols and beefed-up intelligence to enable security forces to nip attacks in the bud.

Another measure that can help protect residents of Yehudah and Shomron is to put an end to the immoral payments that the Palestinian Authority makes to killers of Jews.

The Defense Ministry published figures last week showing that a PA terrorist serving a sentence of between three and five years in an Israeli prison gets NIS 2,000 a month in “salary,” while the payments for terrorists serving 25 to 30 years can be as high as NIS 10,000 a month. Bear in mind that the average working person in PA-controlled areas earns NIS 2,000 a month.

Israel and the United States must not aid and abet the Palestinians in funding a murder-for-hire program. Every month, Israel transfers to the Palestinian Authority taxes and customs it collects on its behalf. The U.S. government provides hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the Palestinian Authority.

The Trump administration has announced that it is reconsidering its aid. Israel must announce that it will deduct any monies paid to terrorists from the funds it transfers to the Palestinian Authority.

Finally, it’s time to stop treating residents of Yehudah and Shomron as second-class citizens. A few days ago, after Rabbi Shevach was murdered, his widow was informed that the prime minister had given the okay to hook up Havat Gilad to the national electric grid and to the Mekorot water company, providing homes there with a reliable source of electricity and water.

“I’m sorry to say this,” she said in a tearful response, “but this is shameful, it’s simply a joke that someone needs to die in order to get electricity.”

As long as the government treats Havat Gilad, established in 2002, as a temporary fixture, not entitled to the recognition and services of a permanent community, the terrorists will be encouraged to strike, in the hope that they will succeed in driving out those who even the government of Israel agrees have no right to be there.