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Hilltop Youth (Israel)

Last modified: 2024-06-15 by martin karner
Keywords: hilltop youth | israel |
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God is the King flag

cropped image #20-7 located by William Garrison

This photo is showing a teenage boy atop a mule on a hilltop overlooking some agricultural community somewhere in the Israeli-controlled West Bank. Various teenagers participate in the "Hilltop Youths" movement whereby they occupy various West Bank hilltops in hope of getting that hilltop annexed as part of Israel. As I do not know what the purple/white reads in Hebrew, hopefully you have a contact who can translate it.
William Garrison, 14 February 2020

#7a    #7b
images located by Brian Hill  (Click on the photos to read captions)

I believe I have an identification for this Flag. This page has a photo of the same flag (#7a) and says it "God is the King" and here's another page that says the same for a very similar flag (#7b). I've included screenshots of those pages with images and the translations. Makes sense that the flag would be purple – the color of royalty.
Brian Hill, 19 March 2020

The Hilltop Youths are "a hardline, religious, nationalist settlers' organisation that sets up illegal outposts across the occupied West Bank". It is also described as a group that "espouses" a Kahanist worldview, favouring "deportation, revenge, and annihilation of Gentiles that posed a threat to the people of Israel".
The correct name is נוער הגבעות (the youth of the hills), is also known as the גבעונים (Givonim). Some of its members are often found camping out in makeshift communities and illegal outposts mostly in Judea and Samaria, and have a reputation as wayward teens eager to clash with Israeli authorities and Palestinians alike.
Additionally, the term "hilltop youth" is regarded as a misnomer, since the movement was founded mostly by married people in their mid-twenties and their offspring are the current youths, or second generation members of such communities who also in some cases, encourage to cultivate organic food, and share a common vision of anti-establishment towards both Palestinian and Israeli authorities alike".
They more or less emerged after a speech given on November 16, 1998, by the then-Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon where he urged the settler youth to "grab the hilltops" in what was viewed as a declaration intended to thwart peace talks, and in particular the implementation of his political rival Benjamin Netanyahu's Wye River Agreement with the Palestinian National Authority, adding: "Everyone that's there should move, should run, should grab more hills, expand the territory. Everything that's grabbed will be in our hands. Everything we don't grab will be in their hands." (regarding also the proposed partition or "land for peace" approach on conflict resolution in the region).
Now, in recent years, we have seen both formal and informal efforts to both establish temporary and permanent settlements, such as the one we already featured, called "The Regional Council for Unrecognized Negev-villages" in 2005 to name one example, which must not be confused with violent activities, nor with the Hilltop Youth (That is: occupying land is not exclusively an activity carried out by one movement, nor by one country in this region).
(source #1) , (source #2), (source #3), (source #4), and (source #5).

image #7d located by Esteban Rivera

A original photo (#7d) of the flag (taken in 2015) of this gang (The Hilltop Youth) is seen here. It is a pirate flag in which a white skull has a white stitched skullcap (called a כִּיפָּה, kipa, kippah or yarmulke) over white פֵּאָה (payot, sideburns) on each side. (source #6)
Do not confuse them with the similarly named doctrine movement called "God is the King". The followers of this doctrine are peaceful people who seek to promote the figure of God as the King, and live by traditions of respect and solidarity in their communities, as seen in this video ("God is the King" flag #20-7 is seen from 0:16 onwards) (source #6) and (source #7).
In the years preceding the unilateral evacuation (Israeli Disengagement 2005) from גוש קטיף (Gush Katif), in the settlement of Neve Dekalim, Gaza Strip, students of the Yeshivat Torat HaChaim (which had been established in 1996) launched a campaign "ה' הוא המלך" (God is King). (source #8)
The purple flags and stickers soon became part of the landscape in many places in the country. Around 2014, with the intention of putting more emphasis on the activity, the campaign was renamed "לה' הוא המלך" (God is the King). (source #9)
The image labeled as #7b displays a flag and this picture was taken back in 2009 by Nati Shohat (of Flash 90/JTA). Thus, it shows the previous flag of the God is King campaign.

image #7f located by Esteban Rivera

The updated flag with the inscription "God is the King" is seen on the original images #20-7 and #7a, the earlier being a picture taken in 2020 and the latter being a picture taken in 2018. It is a horizontal purple background flag with the logo in the middle, with some ornaments on the top and on the bottom, that seem to resemble an olive branch, very common in the region. (image) (source #10)

Logo of the "God is the King" campaign #7
image #7e located by Esteban Rivera

The image #7e taken in 2016 is displaying the "God is the King" updated logo, taken from here. (source #12)
This logo of the "God is the King" campaign, without the numbers below it, is taken from the original located here. (source #11)

Displaying the "God is the King" updated logo #7g
image located by Esteban Rivera

The image #7g is a cropped image displaying the "God is the King" with updated logo, taken from here. (source #13) (this image shows a better image resolution and it has been rotated 90° counterclockwise). Also notice that this version has a white stripe that surrounds the purple horizontal background (there are some variations depending on the manufacturer).
So in conclusion, even though the Hilltop Youth members have been seen waving the "God is the King" flag when indeed occupying such land, it is not the same movement nor organization as the (Yeshivat) Torat HaChaim followers.
For additional information go to (Yeshivat) Torat HaChaim (official website).

Esteban Rivera, 27 July 2020