Ok gang, what do you think when you hear “West Bank?” Border walls? Terrorists? Danger? Well, while there is a degree of each of those, I want you to have a better understanding of the West Bank!
If you are a student of the Bible, you know that a great many of our Bible heros (as well as some villains!) were known to have lived or traveled in Judea and Samaria. Think of Joshua and the tabernacle in Shiloh (Joshua 18-22), Elijah and the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18), many kings who ruled from Samaria (1 Kings, 2 Kings), the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), even Jesus meeting the woman at the well (John 4). All these things (and literally dozens more) happened in the area we know today as the West Bank. Thus, we can safely say that Samaria is an important part of the Bible land.
What a blessing to be invited as a guest of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) on Thursday as their staff toured Samaria. I’m in Israel for the sixth time, but have never experienced this unique journey. So, aboard a chartered bus with Boaz (our guide), we headed west out of Jerusalem and traveled along the infamous wall at the Green Line. Today I’ll give you the lay of the land, because it will be important as I share with you in the days ahead! On the map to the LEFT, notice first that Judea (to the south) and Samaria (to the north) make up what is known today as the West Bank. The West Bank surrounds Jerusalem (actually cutting it virtually in half), with only territory to the west being Israeli-controlled.
The West Bank is said to be “disputed territory,” because following the 1967 War, armistice lines were drawn. Those lines NEVER became official borders, though the Palestinians won favor in the court of world opinion and thus, their contention is that the land is theirs, despite the fact that Israel decisively won the Six Day War (of 1967), taking back all territory. Today, we hear about the “1967 borders,” but technically, there is no such thing!
And who keeps it all safe for both Israelis and Palestinians? The IDF! Here is an Israeli military prep facility, a group of IDF soldiers being trained in the area, and a watch tower at one of the intersections that cross over the Green Line:
Today, Samaria is governed by the Shomron Regional Council (similar to counties in the US), and our group was a guest of the Council as we toured. They wanted to further familiarize ICEJ about Samaria, because the truth of Samaria needs to get out, and Christians seem to be stepping in to tell the story! Here are some facts about Samaria:
- Roughly 1080 square miles – about 12% of Israel
- Over 720,000 Jewish residents live beyond the “Green Line” (450,000 in 250 towns, 270,000 in Palestinian-controlled East Jerusalem)
- 1.8M Arabs in the West Bank (2.9M by their statistics)
- 70% of roads are closed to Jews, 1% are closed to Arabs
- Home Front Command designated Samaritan Jewish communities to absorb 500,000 Israelis in case of missile war!
You see, the media would like for us to believe the West Bank is illegally “occupied territory” by Israelis, and because of that, conditions are so bad that the Palestinians must depend upon others to exist. That is not so! Jews and Arabs most definitely have their own cities and villages within the territory and, in some places, live side-by-side. There are some very nice Jewish neighborhoods within Samaria, yet some of these are the “illegal settlements” you hear about on the news.
The talk about “Israeli occupiers” and “illegal settlements” is pure media hype, perpetuated by the mentality that someone “owes” them something. The Arabs in the area live very well and have their own settlements, which are uncontested. Those on believe differently truly need to go and see for themselves!
Next, I’ll share about a very incredible phenomena of Jews and Arabs working side-by-side to the benefit of all and despite BDS! Keep an eye out for it!