Eli, Mateh Binyamin
|District||Judea and Samaria Area|
Eli (Hebrew: עֵלִי) is a large mixed Israeli settlement in the West Bank. Located on Highway 60 north of Jerusalem and Ramallah, it is organised as a community settlement and falls under the jurisdiction of Mateh Binyamin Regional Council. It was named after the biblical high-priest who served in the Tabernacle in nearby biblical Shiloh (1 Samuel 1:9). In 2018 it had a population of 4,311. The international community considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal under international law, but the Israeli government disputes this.
Eli- named for the Jacobist prophet, Eli the Prophet- was established on 11 September 1984, when three families moved into recently placed buildings. It was the first settlement to be attempted without a core group of families. Several families from Ofra, Kokhav HaShahar, and Shilo were persuaded to come for at least a year while more families would be found. The settlement was originally called 'Givat Levona' after the adjacent settlement Ma'ale Levona. The Amana website states that the initial vision was creating 'one long territorial contiguity' of Jewish settlers between Eli and both Shiloh and Ma'ale Levona.
In recent years the town has evolved into the municipal center for the Shilo area settlement bloc. Eli is also home to the Bnei David pre-military Mechina academy. This yeshiva also offers post-army academic programs.
Bnei David Academy
Bnei David is the first pre-military Orthodox Mechina academy (1988), and was founded by rabbis Eli Sadan and Yig'al Levinstein. Many of the graduates have reached high rank in the IDF. It is an integral part of Eli, as many of the rabbis, administrators, graduates, and students live in Eli. There are currently over 500 students studying at Bnei David, and over 2,500 graduates, over 40% of them became officers, and the majority served in combatant or elite units. Shimon Peres has called it "Pride for the country".
Co-founder of the academy, Rabbi Yigal Levinstein, went on record in 2016 claiming gay people were 'sick and perverted' and that drafting women into the IDF deprived them of their Jewishness. In 2018 Rabbi Yosef Kelner asserted that women had feeble minds and a reduced spirituality. In April 2019, the head of the school, Rabbi Eliezer Kashtiel, was caught on camera lecturing to students on the genetic inferiority of gentiles, Palestinians, on their stupidity, and the need for them to be enslaved. He endorsed racism, and the superiority of the Jewish people. In another lecture, Rabbi Giora Redler stated the Holocaust was a divine punishment to make Jews leave the diaspora, that Hitler was correct 'in every word he said… he was just on the wrong side,' that humanism was the real holocaust, not Hitler's murdering of Jews.
In 2013, the Israeli Civil Administration published a master plan (no. 237) which, if approved, would legitimize hundreds of the structures in Eli and incorporate Eli's four Israeli outpost, from the land of Palestinian villages As-Sawiye and Al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya, and Quaryut. It covers 1000 dunams, but would allow the expansion of other outposts to embrace 6,000 dunams, including privately owned Palestinian land. Within the plan's map, there are 7 Palestinian enclaves, where Palestinians may carry out agricultural projects, but are denied the right to build. The plan depends on declaring collectively owned Palestinian village lands in question as ownerless under Ottoman law, a classification which allows them to be defined as "state property" reserved for Jews alone.
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