Settlement hunger strike nearly ends in tragedy as one collapses, rushed to hospital

Zar started the hunger strike on Jan. 4. He collapsed Wednesday.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

On Jan. 4, a group called the Young Settlements Forum started a hunger strike outside the prime minister’s office to protest the Israeli government’s failure to authorize a large number of outposts in Judea and Samaria. It nearly ended in tragedy for one on Wednesday.

Hunger striker Itai Zar collapsed and was rushed to the hospital. He was one of four participating in the hunger strike. Zar helped found the settlement of Havat Gilad together with his father Moshe Zar in Samaria in 2002. It was named after his brother, Gilad, who was murdered in a terrorist attack in 2001.

Zar collapsed a few days after news reached the protest encampment that Defense Minister Benny Gantz would not authorize 46 settlements seeking legalized status. Gantz’s decision was sharply criticized by settlement leaders.

It was a disappointing moment for the settlements as legalization would allow them to be connected to Israel’s water and electricity grid. The 46 settlements house some 25,000 men, women and children.

Itai Zar

Itai Zar speaks during a press conference at the protest tent of the Yesha Council and Young Settlements Forum demanding the government legalize outposts, Jan. 4, 2020. (Flash90/Yonatan Sindel)

On Thursday, Zar was visited by Minister of Diaspora Affairs and Blue and White MK Omer Yankelevich along with Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria Regional Council.

Zar told Yankelevich and Dagan of the poor conditions in the settlements. “The electricity is terrible. The water is terrible. We are tired. Enough! What has that got to do with politics? Left and right? I just want to live like a human being, I went to synagogue on Saturday night because there was no water. So why? Another 8 years we will suffer? Why? I am nothing, There are 25,000 people here. I know you are not to blame but because of petty politics. It could be arranged in a second to give us electricity and water.”

Yanelevich, who promised she’d do everything could for the settlements, urged Zar to allow the hospital to treat him so that he wouldn’t injure himself. Zar was given a transfusion.

Dagan said, “It is shocking to see how far the government has taken these pioneers who are simply asking for water, electricity and regulation – basic humanitarian needs. It is a shame that we have to go hungry to get what every resident of Israel, including foreign workers, including illegal workers, get as a matter of course.

“The only ones who have to beg for a connection to water and electricity are the pioneers of the settlement of 25,000 people, of whom 18,000 are children.”