In the shadow of escalating tensions
in the south, eight families on Wednesday founded a new community in the Eshkol Regional Council, less than one kilometer from the border with Egypt.
The new community – Shlomit – was established by the Eshkol Regional Council in cooperation with Amana Settlement Movement, the Ministry for Development of the Negev and the Galilee, and the Defense Ministry's settlement and national infrastructure unit.
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The majority of the new residents are young couples with children, who graduated from national-religious Mechina Otzem (pre-army preparatory course). The eight-family community is expected to grow to 17 families by the end of the year, and eventually reach 500 families and include a shopping center, industrial zone and educational institutions.
Despite the recent tension in the south, and especially along the border, the new residents do not seem particularly concerned about their safety. "Security is the last thing on our mind. This may sound ridiculous, but it's just the way it is. Developing the community and making it one that has agriculture, quality of life and Zionism is what we care about," community Secretary Ahikam Getz noted.
'Agriculture, quality of life and Zionism.' (Photo: Eliad Levy)
Getz, married with Seven children, said that "the proximity to the border with Egypt does not bother us, though there is Egyptian military presence. Last week, one of the movers said that we probably changed our minds after the terror attacks, but this hasn’t even crossed our minds.
"The army should be the one concerned about safety – that's its duty; our duty is to establish a vibrant community," he added.
Hila Halevy, 24, moved to Shlomit from the central city of Givat Shmuel. "The security situation is a little alarming, but this is the situation all around the country. Even when we were on vacation in Jerusalem last week there were terror alerts."
Expected to grow to 500 families. Shlomit (Photo: Eliad Levy)
Zvi, Hila's husband, said the decision to move to Shlomit "stemmed from the desire to become pioneers – settle in the Negev or the Galilee. Security considerations were not part of the decision."
The families will first be housed in mobile structures with fortified spaces, until the Construction and Housing Ministry prepares plots of land for the construction of permanent homes.
Eshkol Regional Council head Haim Yalin said that "the residents of Shlomit serve as a role model because they appreciate the quality of life in the Negev. The clean air and education based on values supersedes the security dangers."