Why I Want to Support Kibbutz Hanita

On March 21, 1938, a convoy of fifty trucks and 500 men parked east of the Arab village of Bassa. The Haganah brought them together. They planned to build a tower and stockade Kibbutz, called Hanita, in the hills adjacent to the Lebanese border, only a few miles from the Mediterranean.

Kibbutz Hanita, May of 1938

The goal of the Tower and Stockade movement was to create “facts on the ground” on land already purchased by the Jewish National Fund. The movement knew that the British Mandate authorities would generally abide by Turkish Ottoman law still in effect that prohibited dismantling existing settlements – even if they were illegally created.  Thus, if they could construct a permanent structure, a new settlement would likely be born. That was important. A settlement in the region was necessary to stop Arabs in Lebanon from infiltrating into Palestine and creating havoc.

During the day, the 500 men worked hard but failed to complete the fence and tower. High wind, the steepness of the hill and the amount of equipment that needed transport from the roadway to the settlement site delayed them. That night, 400 men left. One hundred stayed behind to defend the day-old site. Included among them were Moshe Dayan and Yigal Allon. On two adjacent hills, Arab irregulars massed. At midnight they started shooting. In little more than an hour, Arab fire succeeded in killing two Jewish defenders and injured several more. But the remainder survived and the Arabs withdrew into Lebanon.

Today, Kibbutz Hanita remains, standing proud and strong with seven hundred residents including two hundred children. Within its confines, there are two factories and agricultural fields. One of the factories makes contact lens and the other, which makes coatings for films and laminates, was recently purchased by Avery Dennison, an American corporation. The Kibbutz’s agriculture products include bananas, avocados, orchards and olives.

However – there is a problem, a need – and a solution.

The problem is security. The Kibbutz must spend much of its available discretionary funds on securing its perimeter and creating the ability to react to threats. The need is for its children. The solution is funding. I will discuss each in turn.

Security

The northern outer ring of the Kibbutz’s homes are on a ridgetop and lie within meters of the Lebanese border. Below is a heavy forested valley that in one spot snakes into the Kibbutz, resulting in a U-shaped penetration that creates a much longer perimeter than if the hill was straight.

Hanita on Both Sides with Lebanon in the Valley Below

In 2002, members of Islamic Jihad penetrated the border and killed six Israelis at nearby Matzuva Junction. Two were a mother and teenage daughter from Hanita. Since then, Hezbollah has threatened to overrun a border Kibbutz in any future confrontation with Israel. Through its proxy, the Lebanese army, not too long ago Hezbollah built an observation tower on an hill adjacent to Hanita that overlooks the homes and children of the Kibbutz. One can only imagine what Kibbutz members felt like to wake up one day and see the tower on a previously barren ridge line that provided a sight line for terrorists, bent on  their destruction, directly into the Kibbutz

Fortunately, the IDF is not oblivious to the threat. In March of 2017, using bulldozers, they carved out a cliff from what once was lush vegetation on upward sloping terrain. The IDF’s hope was to make it more difficult for intruders to scale the heights and enter Hanita. Furthermore, there is a fence with sensors and a security road that is patrolled by the IDF. But, those measures alone do not seem sufficient to stop a determined enemy. In fact, just a few paces from those defensive measures, on April 20, 2017, Hezbollah gave a field tour to journalists and mocked those defenses. The danger Hezbollah presents is further expressed in an article by Sarit Zehavi, CEO of ALMA. Thus, the Kibbutz must employ its own defensive measures as well.

But that costs money.

The Children

Some two hundred children live in Hanita. All of them require educational and/or supervisory support. The children’s programs involve the following age groups:

  • Eighty kids ages 0-6 in Kindergarten or toddler day-care
  • Seventy-two kids ages 6-12 that require after-school programs
  • Fifty teenagers ages 12-17 that require after-school programs

Unfortunately, after touring the facilities it is clear that they are in dire need of upgrade. After my meeting with Orly Gavishi-Sotto, the Business Director of the Kibbutz, she identified two primary needs:

  1. Finish the playground that is only half done; and
  2. Upgrade the two buildings used by the children.

Hanita Children’s Area

To that I would add an inexpensive third, provide more modern toys, games and educational products for the teachers to use with the children.

The Funding Required

A significant difference can be made for a relatively modest sum. For approximately $35,000, the playground can be completed. For another $65,000 the buildings can be

 

Hanita Children’s Buidling

upgraded. And for only a few thousand dollars more, the children’s toys and educational materials could be modernized.

Hanita Children’s Outdoor Play Area

Shortly, I hope to have a link created through Galila – the Northen Galilee Development Foundation, through which any donations you care to make will be directly funneled to Kibbutz Hanita. Galila is a foundation whose purpose is to support “selected, priority needs of the borderline communities who live in a security-threatened region.” It has 501(c)3 status that makes all donations tax deductible. Until then, you can contact me through this page to express your interest and to ask me any questions that you may have.

Why Do I Feel it is Important to Support Hanita?

The purpose of Hanita today is the same as it was in 1938 – to hold ground. Seven hundred hardy souls are willing to brave the dangers presented by Hezbollah. True they call it home and that in itself stands for much.

But my reasons are much more.

The moment Israelis stop living along the border regions, Israel shrinks. And then even worse, new border regions are then created that begin at the next town or village back from the border. Those towns and villages will then feel endangered and consider moving away. Thus, once the process of retreating from the “border” begins there is no stopping it. That is Hezbollah’s goal. Therefore, not only do the residents of Hanita need help to preserve their way of life, Israel needs help to preserve Hanita.

I strongly believe that ensuring the normality of life and the well-being of the children of the Kibbutz will go a long way towards keeping Hanita strong and vibrant.  I personally visited the Kibbutz in October of 2017. I saw the condition of the children’s’ facilities. I walked the path along the fence Lebanon. I witnessed the children’s play area within rifle shot of a Lebanese/Hezbollah outpost. And I saw the potential the Kibbutz has. It is located in a beautiful region that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea a few kilometers away and it is within only a handful of miles from Nahariya, where there are beautiful beaches.

Almost eighty years ago the Kibbutz was created amidst much uncertainty and danger. That uncertainty and danger still exists today.

Orly on the left and Sarit on the Right

But as opposed to eighty years ago, so much as been built and there is so much to be proud of. Orly Gavishi-Sotto’s confidence and spirit impressed me. I want to help her.

I hope you will too.