Article - Gush Etzion
The Gush Etzion (Etzion Bloc) settlements were established half way between Jerusalem and Hebron. Modern Jewish settlement of Gush Etzion dates back to 1927 with the founding of Migdal Eder, but this isolated settlement was destroyed during the Arab riots of 1929. In 1932 the El ha-Har group set up by Zvi Holtzman made renewed attempts at preparing the land for planting orchards and establishing a settlement on the spot - Kefar Etzion. Once again Arab riots forced the workers to abandon the site.
A third attempt at settlement was made in 1943, when the land was redeemed by the Keren Kayemet le-Israel, and the Abraham group founded Kefar Etzion on the site. In the autumn of 1945 a second group of settlers reached the area and established Massu'ot Yitzhak, which was followed in 1946 by Ein Tzurim and Revadim.
With the outbreak of the War of Independence in 1948, the area came under siege and was cut off from Jerusalem and the Jewish hinterland. Bitter fighting took place over a period of six months. In the spring of 1949 the defenders of the bloc could no longer withstand against the forces of the Arab Legion and Arab irregulars who were greatly superior to them in numbers and firepower. The settlements were overcome one by one.
Two hundred and forty of the defenders, settlers, and those who had come to reinforce them fell in action and the remaining defenders were taken into captivity to Transjordan, where they were interned until their release at the end of the war. The settlements themselves were all razed to the ground.
For 20 years the survivors and their children gazed longingly at the solitary tree standing on the ridge of Har Etzion, which was visible for miles around, and dreamed of returning to their former homes and reestablishing their settlements.
In the course of the Six-Day War (1967) the Etzion Bloc was recaptured, and the children of the original settlers of Kefar Etzion organized themselves into a settlement group and made plans to return to their former home. In the autumn of 1967 their dream was realized.
In the following year the foundations of a regional center - Allon Shevut - were laid and the Har Tzion Yeshiva, which had taken up temporary residence at Kefar Etzion, was moved there. This in turn was followed by a new settlement - Rosh Tzurim - established on the ruins of Ein Tzurim, and the settlements Elazar and Migdal Oz. In 1979 the Military Government established a Regional Council of Etzion, which now comprises these settlements together with the neighboring settlements of Tekoa, Har Gilo, Ma'aleh Amos, Neveh Daniel, Nokdim-El David, Metzad, Carmel Tzur, Kedar, and Bat Ayin. The large and growing suburban community of Efrat is also in Gush Etzion.