Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley
Secure the Heart of the Jewish People
“The connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel has lasted for more than 3,500 years. Judea and Samaria, the places where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, David and Solomon, and Isaiah and Jeremiah lived are not alien to us. This is the land of our forefathers.” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
Many of the most significant events in the Bible occurred in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley. Long before the Romans invaded the Land of Israel and long before Ottomans ruled the area, it was here that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Jewish nation’s forefathers, cared for their flocks. It was here that Jacob travelled from Laban to the Land of Israel. And it was here that Joshua Bin Nun drove out the Canaanite nations out of the land.
Judea is a mountainous and dry region, located west of the Jordan River. It varies in height, rising from an altitude of 1,020 meters above sea level in the south at Mount Hebron, to as much as 400 meters below sea level in the east. Within Judea are three distinct geographical areas, namely the Judean Wilderness in the eastern valley, the Judean Hills in the center and the Coastal Plain, which extends west to the Mediterranean Sea.
Samaria extends over a distance of 1,000 square miles. It begins 15 miles east of Tel Aviv and stretches to the hills overlooking the Jordan Valley. Samaria makes up 10% of the Land of Israel. The Jordan Valley is 120 kilometers long and about 15 kilometers wide. It forms the border between Israel and Jordan in the north.
- Almost 300,000 Jews live in this narrow and vulnerable stretch of land. The Jewish population in these areas is growing about three times faster than the rest of Israel (CBS, 2008).
- Judea and Samaria - their official names which have been widely used for centuries - make up about 5,700 square kilometers.
- Reinforcing Jewish presence in the areas, already under full Israeli control, adds to Israel’s security and strength.
- The bulk of land in Judea and Samaria is made up of State lands.
- Judea and Samaria were included as part of the original land designated by the British Mandate for the establishment of a National Home for the Jewish People.
- The growth-rate in Judea and Samaria is 5.5%, compared with 1.7% elsewhere.
- A study conducted by the Ariel University Center of Samaria revealed that residents of Judea and Samaria tend to be healthier, have a higher income and their children are more likely to do well on their matriculation exams than in the rest of Israel.
- The life expectancy in these areas is 80.6 years and was shown to be higher than in the rest of Israel and comparatively higher than that of U.S and England (CBS).
- Much of Israel’s industry and economic infrastructure is located in these regions, including energy and power installations.
- Ariel University Center of Samaria is the largest college of its kind and one of the fastest growing academic institutions in the country.
- Olives are one of the most valuable crops grown in Judea and Samaria. Olive groves make up approximately 40% of all agricultural land in the region. Revenues are estimated at over 140 million U.S. dollars.
- An archeological discovery, dating back to Egypt’s First Dynasty in 3,000 BCE, was recently made in the Jordan Valley. This rare find dates back to the origins of Egyptian Kingship. It also indicates there was direct interaction between the Jordan Valley community and the Egyptian Court.
- Agriculture is the leading economic sector in the Jordan Valley, due to its unique climate. The strong sun radiation and below average rainfall encourages fruits and vegetables to grow with relatively low infestation, resulting in high quality crops.
- Agricultural production in the Jordan Valley, cultivated over an area of about 33,000 dunams, is valued at about 500 million Shekels annually. It is a major producer of dates, table grapes, peppers, herbs and spices, cherry tomatoes, eggplants, citrus fruit, pomegranates and more.
FACTS OF INTEREST
- Modiin Illit, with a growth rate of 9.5%, is the largest and fastest growing city in Judea and Samaria with about 45,000 residents.
- There are many Biblical sites holy to Judaism in Judea and Samaria. These include Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus and the Cave of the Patriarch’s in Hebron.
- The term “West Bank,” which is often used to refer to Judea and Samaria, is a term that was coined only 60 years ago by the Jordanians, who occupied the region during Israel’s War of Independence.
- Almost all Arab localities towns and villages in Judea and Samaria use the Biblical Jewish names to refer to those areas for example, Anata is the Biblical name for Anatot, the dwelling of Jeremiah, Beitin is Biblical and refers to Beit El, a site of the Holy Ark and court of Samuel the Prophet and Bethlehem is mentioned 44 times in the Bible.
- Most of the Jewish settlements were built on uninhabited, uncultivated state-owned land and no people were displaced.
- Israel’s pre-1967 borders were often referred to as the “Auschwitz Lines” for their vulnerability to attack from its Arab neighbors.
- The names “Judea” and “Samaria” have been used consistently for centuries. The ”Mountains of Judea” are first mentioned in the Book of Joshua. In 1947, the United Nations (General Assembly Resolution 181) referred to Judea and Samaria by their historical names.
- Many settlements in the region were established as ‘communal settlements’ that cater to specific populations. A communal settlement is a community that cooperates on a societal level, including education and religious activities.
- The Herodian, a fortified palace built by King Herod that rises to a height of 100 meters above the surrounding ground, is one of the many tourist attractions and landmarks of the region. It is located eleven kilometers southeast of Bethlehem.
- A Second Temple era cave, discovered near Psagot, attracts many visitors. It has been transformed into a wine cellar on account of its natural underground refrigeration facilities.
- Boutique wineries have become popular tourist attractions together with the many archeological sites in the area.
- The Jordan Valley is one of the world’s major bird-migration routes.
- Alexandrion Fort in the Jordan Valley is the site where bonfires were lit as a sign to the Jews in the Babylonian Diaspora, announcing the start of the new month.