Betar Illit

Betar Illit

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Beitar Illit is an Israeli settlement
Israeli settlement
An Israeli settlement is a Jewish civilian community built on land that was captured by Israel from Jordan, Egypt, and Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War and is considered occupied territory by the international community. Such settlements currently exist in the West Bank...

 and city west of Gush Etzion
Gush Etzion
Gush Etzion is a cluster of Israeli settlements located in the Judaean Mountains directly south of Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the West Bank, Palestinian territories. The core group includes four agricultural villages that were founded in 1940-1947 on property purchased in the 1920s and 1930s, and ...

, 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) south of Jerusalem, in the Judean Mountains
Judean Mountains
The Judaean Mountains, ;, also Judaean Hills and Hebron Hills is a mountain range in Israel and the West Bank where Jerusalem and several other biblical cities are located. The mountains reach a height of 1,000 m.-Geography:...

 of the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

. At the end of 2007, it had a total population of 38,800 consisting of over 6000 families. By 2020, the population is expected to reach 100,000. Beitar Illit was established in 1984 and initially settled by a small group of young families from the religious zionist
Religious Zionism
Religious Zionism is an ideology that combines Zionism and Jewish religious faith...

Yeshiva is a Jewish educational institution that focuses on the study of traditional religious texts, primarily the Talmud and Torah study. Study is usually done through daily shiurim and in study pairs called chavrutas...

 of Machon Meir
Machon Meir
Machon Meir' is a religious Zionist outreach organization and yeshiva situated in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Kiryat Moshe, close to Givat Shaul...

, including that of Rabbi Reuven Hass (now of Beit El
Beit El
Beit El is an Israeli settlement and a local council in the Benjamin region of the central West Bank, within the borders of the Matte Binyamin Regional Council. The religiously observant town is located in the hills north of Jerusalem east of the Palestinian city of al-Bireh. In 2009, it had a...

). As Beitar Illit began to grow, an influx of Haredi
Haredi Judaism
Haredi or Charedi/Chareidi Judaism is the most conservative form of Orthodox Judaism, often referred to as ultra-Orthodox. A follower of Haredi Judaism is called a Haredi ....

 Jewish Bobov families came to predominate while the original group moved on. The city has since expanded to three adjacent hills. The city's ideology is based on the desire to have an exclusively Haredi environment. It is named after the ancient Jewish city of Betar
Betar (fortress)
The Betar Fortress was the last standing Jewish fortress in the Bar Kochba revolt of the 2nd century CE, destroyed by the Roman army of Emperor Hadrian in the year 135...

, whose ruins lie 1 kilometre (0.621372736649807 mi) away.

The international community considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal under international law, but the Israeli government disputes this.


Beitar Illit is a fast-growing settlement, with a higher birthrate than any other habitation in the West Bank or Israel.

According to the statistics from the Ministry of Interior, the population figures for January 2007 there are 34,427 members listed on their computers and 29,404 citizens that are listed as active. The town is reported to have almost 20,000 schoolchildren. According to former mayor
In many countries, a Mayor is the highest ranking officer in the municipal government of a town or a large urban city....

 Yitzchak Pindrus, the population is expected to reach 100,000 by 2020, based on population growth
Population growth
Population growth is the change in a population over time, and can be quantified as the change in the number of individuals of any species in a population using "per unit time" for measurement....

 and the building of new apartments to attract more Haredim from older Haredi cities such as Bnei Brak and parts of Jerusalem.

A significant percentage of men in the community work, mostly commuting to jobs in Jerusalem or working from home.


Beitar Illit is in the northern Judean Hills at about 950 m above sea level
Above mean sea level
The term above mean sea level refers to the elevation or altitude of any object, relative to the average sea level datum. AMSL is used extensively in radio by engineers to determine the coverage area a station will be able to reach...

. It is located just west of the intersection of Route 60, the north–south artery which roughly follows the watershed
Water divide
A drainage divide, water divide, divide or watershed is the line separating neighbouring drainage basins...

 from Nazareth
Nazareth is the largest city in the North District of Israel. Known as "the Arab capital of Israel," the population is made up predominantly of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel...

 through Jerusalem to Beersheba
Beersheba is the largest city in the Negev desert of southern Israel. Often referred to as the "Capital of the Negev", it is the seventh-largest city in Israel with a population of 194,300....

, and Route 375, which descends west into the Elah Valley
Valley of Elah
The Valley of Elah, "the valley of the oak or terebinth" , best known as the place described in the Bible where the Israelites were encamped when David fought Goliath . It was near Azekah and Socho...

 to the coastal plain
Israeli Coastal Plain
The Israeli coastal plain is the narrow coastal plain along Israel's Mediterranean Sea coast which houses 70% of the country's population. The plain extends north to south and is divided into a number of areas; the Plain of Zebulun , Hof HaCarmel , the Sharon plain , and the Plain of Judea The...

 and Tel Aviv area
Gush Dan
The Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area , or Gush Dan , is a metropolitan area including areas from both the Tel Aviv and the Central Districts of Israel. The area is closely linked to the city of Tel Aviv through social, economic, and cultural ties. It is located along the Israeli Mediterranean coastline...

. It takes about 10 minutes to get to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

 is around 60 minutes away.

Status under international law

Like all Israeli settlements in the Israeli-occupied territories
Israeli-occupied territories
The Israeli-occupied territories are the territories which have been designated as occupied territory by the United Nations and other international organizations, governments and others to refer to the territory seized by Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967 from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria...

, Beitar Illit is considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this. The international community considers Israeli settlements to violate the Fourth Geneva Convention
Fourth Geneva Convention
The Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, commonly referred to as the Fourth Geneva Convention and abbreviated as GCIV, is one of the four treaties of the Geneva Conventions. It was adopted in August 1949, and defines humanitarian protections for civilians...

's prohibition on the transfer of an occupying power's civilian population into occupied territory. Israel disputes that the Fourth Geneva Convention applies to the Palestinian territories as they had not been legally held by a sovereign prior to Israel taking control of them. This view has been rejected by the International Court of Justice
International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands...

 and the International Committee of the Red Cross
International Committee of the Red Cross
The International Committee of the Red Cross is a private humanitarian institution based in Geneva, Switzerland. States parties to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977 and 2005, have given the ICRC a mandate to protect the victims of international and...



Despite having no industry and minimal commerce, as well as a population that is generally weak economically, Beitar Illit has been awarded the Israeli Interior Ministry's gold prize for a balanced budget
A budget is a financial plan and a list of all planned expenses and revenues. It is a plan for saving, borrowing and spending. A budget is an important concept in microeconomics, which uses a budget line to illustrate the trade-offs between two or more goods...

 seven years running. The municipal welfare
Welfare refers to a broad discourse which may hold certain implications regarding the provision of a minimal level of wellbeing and social support for all citizens without the stigma of charity. This is termed "social solidarity"...

 department was awarded a prize and recognized by the national government as an "outstanding department" for its work in preventing teen dropout
Dropping out
Dropping out means leaving a group for either practical reasons, necessities or disillusionment with the system from which the individual in question leaves....

s. The city also received the 2005 national "flag award," as well as the Council for a beautiful Israel
Council for a beautiful Israel
thumb|widthpx|250px|Council office in the [[Yarkon Park]]The Council for a Beautiful Israel , was formed in 1968, by Aura Herzog, who remains its international president...

's "Stars of Beauty" prize as one of the cleanest Israeli municipalities, and for community education programs emphasizing recycling, for five years running.

2007 municipal elections

In a closely fought election on October 30, 2007, Rabbi Yitzchak Pindrus, the incumbent mayor for the previous five years, was defeated by Rabbi Meir Rubinstein.


There are dozens of pre-schools, 50 elementary schools, 2 girls high schools, 3 yeshiva ketanahs, 2 yeshiva gedollahs, and 2 English kollels in Beitar Illit.

Controversial flooding of surrounding fields and villages

It has been reported that Beitar Illit authorities release the settlement's sewage
Sewage is water-carried waste, in solution or suspension, that is intended to be removed from a community. Also known as wastewater, it is more than 99% water and is characterized by volume or rate of flow, physical condition, chemical constituents and the bacteriological organisms that it contains...

 on to the Palestinian fields and orchards surrounding the settlement.

The resulting flooding with wastewater
Wastewater is any water that has been adversely affected in quality by anthropogenic influence. It comprises liquid waste discharged by domestic residences, commercial properties, industry, and/or agriculture and can encompass a wide range of potential contaminants and concentrations...

 is said to endanger the water table
Water table
The water table is the level at which the submarine pressure is far from atmospheric pressure. It may be conveniently visualized as the 'surface' of the subsurface materials that are saturated with groundwater in a given vicinity. However, saturated conditions may extend above the water table as...

 as well as cause health problems for the nearby villagers. Media reports also say it ruins surrounding crops, vineyards, and almond
The almond , is a species of tree native to the Middle East and South Asia. Almond is also the name of the edible and widely cultivated seed of this tree...


See also

  • Betar (fortress)
    Betar (fortress)
    The Betar Fortress was the last standing Jewish fortress in the Bar Kochba revolt of the 2nd century CE, destroyed by the Roman army of Emperor Hadrian in the year 135...

    , the last Jewish fort held in the Bar Kochba revolt
  • Battir
    Battir is an ancient town located in the West Bank, 5km west of Bethlehem, and south west of Jerusalem. It has a population of about 4,000 inhabitants. Battir sits just above the railway from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which also served as the armistice line between Israel and Jordan from 1948 to 1967...

    , an Arab village adjacent to Beitar Illit and the Betar ruins.

External links