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An Eye on Zion: Migdal Oz


Tucked into the hills of Gush Etzion just southwest of Jerusalem,  the beautiful kibbutz of Migdal Oz stands as a beacon of ongoing resilience. Literally translated into English as “Tower of Strength,” Migdal Oz has truly lived up to its name. Through the years, the kibbutz has endured repeated gunfire and arson attacks by hostile Arab neighbors. Only further emboldened since October 7th, angry Arab mobs have marched to Migdal Oz’s entrance in a blatant attempt to instigate fear and provoke resignation. Despite these threats and acts of terror, the resolve of the people in Migdal Oz remains unshakable.

Established in 1977 by members of the Religious Kibbutz Movement, Migdal Oz stands out as a unique kibbutz with a vibrant agricultural industry and one of Israel’s largest dairies. But for Migdal Oz, its nucleus is not a dining hall or a meeting room. Rather, its synagogue stands as a central emblem affirming that all communal life revolves around the Bible. Its several yeshivas (Bible Academies for men) and a prestigious Bible College for women further reflect Migdal Oz’s commitment to the Biblical values and to the Biblical Heartland.


Imbued with an unwavering faith in God, the people of Migdal Oz have functioned as a unified “tower of strength” in the region particularly during times of heartbreaking tragedy. On June 12, 2014, three Israeli teens, Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel, were kidnapped at Gush Etzion’s central junction. Responding as a united force, the people of Migdal Oz joined the IDF and security forces to search for the three boys in “Operation Brother’s Keeper.” Tragically, the lifeless bodies of the three boys were discovered three weeks later near the northern outskirts of Hebron. Their murders devastated everyone in the region who had symbolically adopted the three boys as their own sons and brothers.

The deep sense of loss, however, did not break the spirit of Migdal Oz. Approximately 300 meters west of Migdal Oz on a barren hilltop overlooking the intersection where the kidnapping occurred, they promptly sought to establish a new community in memory of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali. Due to political considerations, they were never granted official authorization to do so. However, the valiant people of Migdal Oz and Gush Etzion persisted. Determined volunteers spent the rest of 2014 turning the formerly desolate hilltop into a nature reserve they named “Oz veGaon,” translated as “Strength and Pride” (with “pride” referring to the “pride of Jacob” in Psalms 47:5 and serving as a Hebrew acronym for Gilad, Eyal and Naftali). Functioning now as an active educational and tourism site with a playground and a synagogue, Oz veGaon carries on the example of Migdal Oz, inspiring continued strength and perseverance in the Biblical Heartland. Responding to a very recent shooting attack at Oz veGaon in March of 2024, Gush Etzion Regional Council head Yaron Rosenthal declared: “Our grip on this ‘good mountain’ will continue to deepen. This is our true answer to murderous terrorism.”


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