About the groups
The Hilltop Youth are often noted for establishing illegal/disputed outposts outside existing settlements. They are not centrally organized, but they receive assistance from local community councils and state ministries and are protected by the Israeli military. Members linked to the group have been accused of engaging in Israeli settler violence, including vandalism of Palestinian schools and mosques. Settlers have long been accused of carrying out what are called "price tag attacks", a term used for targeting Palestinian property in revenge for outposts demolished by the Israeli military, although no one as yet has actually been convicted of having been involved in such vandalism.
Many of the hilltop youth feel that the mainstream settler movement has lost its way, opting for cheap housing close to major cities, built by local Arab labor, with tall fences and no space between their homes. The Youth often engage in organic farming and shun Palestinian labor in favor of 'Avoda Ivrit' - Hebrew labor. Much of Israel's organic produce is cultivated by the hilltop youth.
A handful of the new hilltops, such as Sde Boaz, Ma'ale Rehav'am and Esh Kodesh are populated by both religious and non-religious Jews and there is a sense that they wish to serve as an example of religious tolerance in a society where the two groups often live apart from one another.
Certain people associated with the mainstream Israeli settlement movement, along with some of the nationalist parties, have distanced themselves from the Hilltop Youth and insist that the youth are not part of their movement. The Hilltop Youth has been condemned in the past by figures within Israel's government, with Former Defense Minister Ehud Barak referring to the group as unacceptable "homemade terror, Jewish-made terror".
The youth are influenced by religious Zionist ideals, which include a dedication to building and farming the land as well as devoting time to learning Torah. In addition to basing their ideals on the teachings of prominent rabbis such as Avraham Yitzchak Kook, Avri Ran is considered by some to be a spiritual leader of the hilltop youth movement, though he does not see himself as such. They were also strongly influenced by the late Netanel Ozeri, who was killed by Hamas gunmen on Hilltop 26 near Hebron. The philosophy of some in the movement is expressed by a mixture of distrust of the Israeli government and a desire for a restored Jewish monarchy.
- Erica Chernofsky (18 August 2009). "Hilltop Youth push to settle West Bank". BBC. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
- Moshe Dann (13 July 2004). "In defense of hilltop youth". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
- Laura King (13 July 2004). "Audit says Israel funded settlements". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
- Tovah Lazroff (21 October 2010). "Palestinians blame 'hilltop youth' for school arson". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
- Chaim Levinson (14 December 2011). "Israel Police scrambles to stop mosque arsonists from striking again". Haaretz. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
- Lourdes Garcia-Navarro (9 January 2012). "Israel Cracks Down on Radical 'Hilltop Youth'". NPR. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
- Israel's Religious Right and the Question of Settlements (PDF) (Report). International Crisis Group. 20 July 2009. p. 9. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
Many hilltop youth farm organically, and maintain autonomous self-defence groups.
- Dafna Arad (April 24, 2012). "Farming in the West Bank: Organic paradise, thorny reality". Haaretz. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
- Chaim Levinson, Israeli 'hilltop youth' accuse their former hero of stealing settlers' land, at Haaretz, 31 January 2013.