PM orders illegal outpost hooked up to power grid after terror attack

Settlers downplay move as ‘spin’ and call on Netanyahu to legalize Havat Gilad

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

The West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad, January 10, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
The West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad, January 10, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the Defense Ministry on Thursday to officially hook up Havat Gilad to the electricity grid, two days after a father-of-six who lived at the illegal outpost was slain by Palestinian terrorists in a drive-by shooting.

The outpost, southeast of Nablus, currently receives electricity through a makeshift connection to the power grid. Regulating the service would allow for the installment of proper infrastructure linking the hilltop community to the national power network.

Rabbi Raziel Shevach with his daughter, in an undated photo (Courtesy of the family)

A spokeswoman for the Samaria Regional Council said that the residents of Havat Gilad have been paying the Israel Electric Corporation for power, but that Netanyahu’s move would enable regulated electricity supply at a higher voltage.

The move could be seen as a step toward legalizing the hilltop community, which was founded in 2002 in memory of Gilad Zar, security coordinator of the Shomron Regional Council, who was shot dead in an attack a year earlier.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on January 11, 2018. (Alex Kolomoisky/Pool)

But settler leaders told The Times of Israel that the move was merely “spin.”

“We’ve called on him to legalize the entire community and he comes back with this nonsense about electricity,” said one senior official.

On Tuesday evening, Rabbi Raziel Shevach was murdered while on his way home to Havat Gilad. Even before his burial, settler leaders and right-wing lawmakers called for the outpost to be legalized. Both Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan and Education Minister Naftali Bennett called on Netanyahu in their eulogies to make the move.

Culture Minister Miri Regev and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein made similar declarations during condolence visits to the Shevach family home on Thursday.

Culture Minister Miri Regev (L) makes a condolence visit to the family of Raziel Shevach in Havat Gilad after the 35-year-old was murdered by Palestinian terrorists outside the outpost. (Courtesy: Samaria Regional Council)

“It’s untenable that the widow, Yael, does not know when she will have electricity, when she can shower her children, or when she can tell the mourners to come to console her [due to problems with telephone coverage],” said Regev.

Earlier Thursday, Yael Shevach made a similar appeal to the prime minister when speaking to reporters.

“We want to live here as proud Jews… rather than having to fight for every sliver of land as if we were thieves,” she said.

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